Massive Marsupials Once Swung from Treetops Down Under Live Science - November 27, 2012
Some 15 million years ago, mobs of 150-pound (70-kilogram) marsupials roamed the treetops of Australia's rain forests, researchers say. Nimbadon lavarackorum belonged to a family of large-bodied marsupials known as the diprotodontids that went extinct about 11,000 years ago. During the diprotodontids' reign in Australia, they ranged from sheep-size wombatlike creatures to the mega-herbivore Diprotodon, which stood at 13 feet (4 meters) tall and weighed up to 6,100 pounds (2,800 kg). Nimbadons were on the small-end of this spectrum, and they lived during the Middle Miocene (about 16 million to 11.6 million years ago). These ancient marsupials are best known from 26 different specimens found at the bottom of a vertical cave in northwestern Queensland, where a group of them apparently plunged to their deaths. In a new study, researchers examined Nimbadon bones and compared them with other species to get a clearer picture of how these ancient animals might have lived.
'Giant wombat' skeleton found in Australia's Queensland BBC - July 6, 2011
Scientists in Australia have found the skeleton of a "giant wombat" which lived some two million years ago. The plant-eating marsupial would have been the size of a four-wheel drive car and weighed three tonnes, experts say.
Weird Australian hammer-tooth marsupial fossil found PhysOrg - April 20, 2011
Fossils of bizarre lizard-like, snail-eating marsupials have been discovered by UNSW paleontologists in an ancient fossil field in the Riversleigh World Heritage area in Queensland. The fossils date back 10 to 17 million years ago.
Fossil Bones Suggest Ancient Marsupials Plunged to Death Live Science - July 15, 2010
Discovery Of The Oldest European Marsupial In Southwest France Science Daily - November 9, 2009
Giant Prehistoric "Kangaroos" Killed Off by Humans National Geographic - August 13, 2008
"Granddaddy of Kangaroos" Found in Aussie Fossil National Geographic - December 20, 2007
Mega-marsupials once roamed Australia CNN - January 26, 2007
The team discovered 69 species of mammals, birds and reptiles, including eight new species of kangaroo, some standing up to 9 feet tall. Protected from wind and rain, and undisturbed due to their remote location, the remains of the mega-beasts are in near-perfect condition, including the first-ever complete skeleton of a marsupial lion, Thylacoleo carnifex.
Research into the fossils challenges recent claims that Australia's megafauna were killed off by climate change, pointing the finger instead at fires, probably lit by the first human settlers who transformed the fragile landscape. The lands inhabited by the megafauna once supported flowers, tall trees and shrubs. But isotopes extracted from skeletal enamels show the climate was hot and arid, similar to today. The plants, the scientists said, were highly sensitive to so-called fire-stick farming, where lands were deliberately cleared by fires to encourage re-growth. "Australian megafauna could take all that nature could throw at them for half-a-million years, without succumbing," said Richard Roberts, a geochronologist at the University of Wollongong. "It was only when people arrived that they vanished."
Australia: Caverns give up huge fossil haul BBC - January 24, 2007
Extinct Australian "Lion" Was Big Biter, Expert Says National Geographic
Two million years ago bizarre creatures roamed the Australian continent - the flesh-eating giant rat-kangaroo, the thunder bird, the marsupial wolf, and a giant monitor lizard
Remains of Oldest Marsupial Found in China ABC News - December 2003
The newly found ancient animal, named Sinodelphys szalayi, is the earliest known marsupial, meaning an animal with a pouch. It was chipmunk-sized, about 6 inches long and weighed about an ounce, according to Zhe-Xi Luo of the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh. Its skeleton was found in 2000 in a region where researchers had previously found Eomaia, a fossil believed to be among the earliest known placental mammals, of about the same age.
Ice Age Marsupial Topped Three Tons, Scientists Say National Geographic - October 2003
Bizarre 'horned' kangaroo fossils unearthed May 2003 - New Scientist
The first complete skulls of a bizarre "horned" kangaroo are the star finds in the cache of fossils newly unearthed from caves in the Nullarbor Plain, Australia.
December 2, 1998 - Nature Magazine
Scientists in Mongolia have uncovered a pair of fossils that may contain evidence of some of the earliest characteristics of marsupials, or mammals that develop their young in a pouch. The newly discovered specimens of Deltatheridium, an opossum-like animal, are 80 million years old, which would mean they lived among the dinosaurs.
The discovery more closely defines the time period when marsupials emerged, said Guillermo W. Rougier, a paleontologist at the University of Louisville and the American Museum of Natural History in New York.
Rougier was among three researchers who found the specimens at Ukhaa Tolgod in the deserts of Mongolia. Marsupials represent one of three branches of mammals. The two other branches are monotremes, such as the egg-laying duckbilled platypus, and placentals such as humans that develop their young inside the body.Besides opossums, modern marsupials include kangaroos and wallabies.
Most live in South America and Australia, but the Mongolian fossils suggest they originated in Asia. Deltatheridium had large molars and sharp canine teeth, and probably hunted lizards and smaller mammals. Researchers said the Deltatheridium specimens share many traits with modernmarsupials, such as a bony feature in the back of the jaw where chewing muscles attached.
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