This ancient marsupial lion had an early version of ‘bolt-cutter’ teeth | Science News

SUPPORT SCIENCE NEWS

Help us keep you informed.

Real Science. Real News.


Introducing

This ancient marsupial lion had an early version of ‘bolt-cutter’ teeth

Extinct species was a fearsome predator in Australia’s hot, humid forests

By
7:00am, December 11, 2017
marsupial lion illustration

NEW MARSUPIAL LION  A newly named species of extinct marsupial lion (illustrated) was dog-sized but probably as fierce as anything in its forest. 

A skull and other fossils from northeastern Australia belong to a new species in the extinct family of marsupial lions.

This newly named species, Wakaleo schouteni, was a predator about the size of a border collie, says vertebrate paleontologist Anna Gillespie of the University of New South Wales in Sydney. At least 18 million years ago (and perhaps as early as 23 million years ago), it roamed what were then hot, humid forests. Its sturdy forelimbs suggest it could chase possums, lizards and other small prey up into trees. Gillespie expects W. shouteni — the 10th species named in its family — carried its young in a pouch as kangaroos, koalas and other marsupials do.

Actual lions evolved on a different fork in the mammal genealogical tree, but Australia’s marsupial lions got their feline nickname from the size and slicing teeth of the first species named, in 1859.  Thylacoleo carnifex was about as big as a lion. And its

This article is only available to Science News subscribers. Already a subscriber? Log in now. Or subscribe today for full access.

Get Science News headlines by e-mail.

More Evolution articles

From the Nature Index Paid Content