New extinct giant wombat discovery in Australia


This 25 June 2020 video says about itself:

A new extinct family of giant wombat relatives has been discovered in the Australian desert. The giant marsupial that roamed prehistoric Australia 25 million years ago is so different from its wombat cousins that scientists have had to create a new family to accommodate it.

This 27 June 2020 video says about itself:

A MEGA-WOMBAT the size of a bear that lived around 25million years ago has been unearthed. Scientists discovered the massive beast after digging up part of its skull and bones in Lake Pinpa, Australia.

The animal has been named Mukupirna nambensis – with the first part of its name meaning “big bones”. It weighed up to 171kg and was at least four times larger than all currently living wombats – bigger than a giant panda.

The animal has been classed as an entirely new species and is a member of a group of animals called Vombatiformes. The family also includes creatures such as koalas, modern wombats and their ancient relatives.

Scientists have said the discovery increases our understanding of how wombats developed digging and burrowing behaviour. Its teeth show it only ate plants and its arms suggest it would scratch for food on the ground, such as when looking for roots. Despite its massive size, however, it is not even the biggest wombat-like creature every found. Diprotodon has that honour, weighing in at an impressive 2,000kg – two tonnes – and surviving until at least 50,000 years ago.

Dr Robin Beck, from The University of Salford, who led the study, said: “Koalas and wombats are amazing animals. “But animals like Mukupirna show that their extinct relatives were even more extraordinary, and many of them were giants.” He added: “It tells us a lot about the evolution of wombats, koalas and their relatives. “It is remarkable for its large size – this was clearly an impressive, powerful beast.”

The bones were discovered after drought and strong winds blew the surface of the dry salt lake bed. The freak conditions uncovered the remains of animals that died after getting stuck in the mud millions of years ago. Archaeologists used an “acupuncture” method to find the bones, pushing metal rods into the soft mud until they hit something hard before digging it up.

Mukupirna is now the closest known relative of modern wombats, yet it is still so different scientists have given it its own family of creatures – Mukupirnidae. It is likely the mega wombat vanished during a global climate shift which saw its scrubby forest home vanish. Lusher and more diverse forests followed, which will have lead to climate conditions not suited for the Mukupirnids.

Professor Michael Archer of the University of New South Wales, who was part of the team that first uncovered the bones which have only just been identified in 1975, hailed it as a “mysterious new beast”. Julien Louys of Griffith University, who co-authored the study, said: “The description of this new family fills a crucial missing piece to the ancient bestiary of Australia. “It joins other weird and extinct marsupials from 25 million years ago, many of which we wouldn’t recognise today.”

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