Demystifying Science - December 17, 2017

December 17, 2017 12:02 am | Updated 07:48 am IST

What is Wakaleo schouteni?

It’s a new species of marsupial lion discovered in Australia which has been extinct for at least 19 million years. The discoverers found fossilised remains of the animal’s skull, teeth, and humerus (upper arm bone) in the Riversleigh World Heritage Area of remote north-western Queensland. Named in honour of palaeo-artist Peter Schouten, Wakaleo schouteni was a predator that stalked Australia’s abundant rainforests some 18 to 26 million years ago in the late Oligocene to early Miocene era. This meat-eating marsupial is estimated to have been about the size of a dog and weighed around 23 kilograms. It had highly distinct large, blade-like, flesh-cutting premolars that it used to tear up prey. “With the new find, we believe that two different species of marsupial lions were present in the late Oligocene at least 25 million years ago,” the paleontologists said. The findings have been published in the Journal of Systematic Palaeontology — ScienceDaily

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