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Remains of ancient extinct lion species discovered in Australia

By IANS Updated: Dec 07, 2017 6:59 pm

Canberra, Dec. 7 (IANS): A team of Australian scientists announced on Thursday the discovery of fossilised remains of a new species of lion that has been extinct for over 19 million years.

The University of New South Wales’ researchers said the fossilised skull, teeth, and humerus bone was found at the Riversleigh World Heritage site in Queensland.

The remains were believed to belong to the mysterious marsupial lion, Xinhua news agency reported.

Named after paleo-artist Peter Schouten, the Wakaleo Schouteni was a predator that roamed Australia’s thick rainforests as far back as 26 million years ago.

Thought to be about the size of a dog, the animal enjoyed a bountiful carnivorous diet.

“We can make hypothesis about what it ate from the structure of its teeth,” lead author Anna Gillespie said.

“It had sharp premolars that suggests it was slicing flesh like small birds, possums and lizards, but it might have also eaten a lot of veggies as well.

“Its molars have a very broad base structure which also suggests it was using its teeth to cut and grind up food.”

With the new discovery, scientists have now identified two separate marsupial lion species in Australia.

The first identified species, Wakaleo pitikantensis, was found in 1961 near Lake Pitikanta in South Australia and weighed around 130 kg.

By IANS Updated: Dec 07, 2017 6:59:41 pm