This giant marsupial was a seasonal migrant | Science News

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This giant marsupial was a seasonal migrant

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7:05pm, September 26, 2017

MEGA MIGRATOR A new analysis suggests that Diprotodon optatum, a giant plant-eating marsupial that went extinct about 40,000 years ago, migrated long distances, much like today’s zebras and wildebeests.

The largest marsupial to ever walk the Earth is also the only marsupial known to have ever migrated seasonally. Diprotodon optatum was a gigantic wombatlike herbivore that lived in what’s now Australia and New Guinea during the Pleistocene Epoch, until it died out about 40,000 years ago. A new analysis of an ancient tooth suggests that the marsupial went on long, seasonal migrations.

Animals pick up the chemical element strontium through their diet, and it leaves a record in their teeth. The ratio of different strontium isotopes varies from place to place, providing clues to where an animal lived. Strontium isotope ratios in a D. optatum incisor revealed a repeating pattern. The finding suggests the animal, with teeth that wore down and grew throughout its life, migrated seasonally. And the animals generally visited the same rest stops each year, researchers report September

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