Giant fossil mammal discovered in Australia


Zygomaturus tasmanicus

From BigNews Network:

Scientists unearth remains of giant hippo-like animal

IANS Wednesday 2nd September, 2009

Scientists have uncovered the remains of a giant hippo-like creature near Alcoota, a find that will shed new light on the [Northern] territory’s prehistoric past.

For 25 years, palaeontologsts from the Northern Territory (NT) Museum and Flinders University have been painstakingly extracting the remains of giant flightless birds [see also here], wombat-like creatures and crocodiles from a nearly seven million-year-old fossil site near Alcoota.

This month, they uncovered yet another important piece of Australia’s early history. They unearthed jawbones of four Zygomaturus gilli, a species ancestral to the giant hippo-like animal that roamed Australia up to 45,000 years ago, according to a Flinder’s release.

Gavin Prideaux from Flinders University said the discovery was very exciting. ‘One of the problems with Alcoota is that we’ve never been able to date it directly,’ Prideaux said.

‘These Zygomaturus gilli specimens give us a strong tie in with similar specimens found at a site to the south of Melbourne that have been dated at about five-and-a-half million years. It is going to help us lock Alcoota in to a tighter timeframe,’ he said.

The discovery gave an insight into ‘how much there is to learn just at the one site, let alone the whole of Australia,’ Prideaux said.

‘The reality is we know perhaps one percent of Australia’s fossil history. It’s like having 10 pieces in a 1,000-piece jigsaw; there’s a great temptation to reconstruct the picture based on those pieces, but the likelihood is that we’ll almost certainly get it wrong.’

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3 thoughts on “Giant fossil mammal discovered in Australia

  1. Pingback: ‘Yetis’ are Asian bears | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  2. Pingback: Small wallaby related to extinct giant kangaroos | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  3. Pingback: Oldest European marsupial discovered | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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