Meet the marsupial lion with blade like teeth which hunted in Queensland

Meet the marsupial lion with blade like teeth which hunted in Queensland

It was found at the internationally-renowned Riversleigh World Heritage Area in remote north-western Queensland state, where the remains of a bevy of odd new small to medium-sized creatures have been discovered. It's estimated to be as big as a medium-sized dog, weighing about 23kg (51lb), according to the study. These species were roughly dog-sized and appeared to have formed a morphocline - that is, a series of animals with certain features that gradually evolved over time, with each species being sequentially replaced.

A team of Australian scientists announced on Thursday the discovery of fossilised remains of a new species of lion that has been extinct for over 19 million years.

Named after paleo-artist Peter Schouten, the Wakaleo Schouteni was a predator that roamed Australia's thick rainforests as far back as 26 million years ago.

Though that species survived until around 30,000 years ago, it is thought that the arrival of humans in Australia may be linked to its demise.

The Thylacoleonidae family of marsupial were categorized by their highly distinct large, blade-like, flesh-cutting premolars which were used to tear up prey. There are now nine known species, which increased in size over millions of years.

These species were distinguished from other marsupial lion species by loss of the front premolar tooth or teeth. It was possible that this relatively poorly preserved species may have been actually a species of Wakaleo.

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The similarities between the new species and Priscileo pitikantensis, specifically the presence of three upper premolars and four molars, prompted the researchers to reclassify P. pitikantensis as a Wakaleo. In the middle is the cheek bone (which is incomplete) and the socket for the eye, and at the right end is the brain case. In anatomy, "morphology" is a term that describes the appearance and the structure of a part of the body.

Reconstruction of Wakaleo schouteni challenging the thylacinid Nimbacinus dicksoni over a kangaroo carcass in the late Oligocene forest at Riversleigh, Australia. These large marsupials existed many million years after the newly discovered, smaller and older marsupial lion.

It likely pursued its food - small vertebrates like lizards, frogs, birds and mammals - through the tree-tops.

The other, originally named Priscileo pitikantensis, but renamed Wakaleo pitikantensis, was slightly smaller and was identified from teeth and limb bones discovered near Lake Pitikanta in South Australia in 1961.

With this new find, the researchers believe that two different species of marsupial lion were present in the late Oligocene at least 25 million years ago. Read the original article.

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