Thylacoleo carnifex and the Naracoorte Caves
Of all the extinct Australian Pleistocene megafauna species, Thylacoleo carnifex, the marsupial ‘lion’, has captured the imagination of people more than any other. Perhaps it is the allure of its predatory habits – Australia’s Pleistocene answer to T. rex – or the intriguing notion that it used caves as dens. It is certainly an enigma and, as the eminent British palaeontologist Sir Richard Owen suggested in 1866, an extreme and meat-eating version of the otherwise herbivorous diprotodont marsupials. Spectacular discoveries over the past few decades have put to rest much of the speculation regarding Thylacoleo’s habits and morphology, and fossil remains found in caves at Naracoorte in South Australia have played a central role in solving the puzzle of this iconic marsupial.
In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:
In 1859 Sir Richard Owen received fossils from Lake Colongulac, near Camperdown in Western Victoria, that he interpreted as the remains of a great marsupial carnivore. Owen named the animal Thylacoleo carnifex and was sufficiently impressed by its carnassial-like premolars to assert that “…it was one of the fellest and most destructive of predatory beasts.” Almost at once controversy ensued.
AAOD Journal Issue 13 (2015) – pages 40 to 51
By Michael Curry, Liz Reed and Steve Bourne
This article will be delivered as a PDF to your email and cannot be refunded, returned or cancelled.
Payment & Security
Your payment information is processed securely. We do not store credit card details nor have access to your credit card information.