Australia's first humans may have lived alongside huge lizards. Image Credit: CC BY-SA 3.0 Greg Hume
New evidence suggests that Australia was once home to huge reptiles that lived alongside early humans.
When the ancestors of today's Aboriginal Australians first arrived on the continent they would have encountered a landscape dominated by a menagerie of prehistoric giants including wombats the size of rhinos, seven-feet-tall kangaroos and now, according to palaeontologists from the University of Queensland, huge lizards that grew up to 20ft in length and weighed in excess of 1,100 pounds.
The fact that humans shared the Australian outback with these huge reptiles was discovered thanks to the fossil fragments of a giant lizard found during a recent dig in Central Queensland.
"Our jaws dropped when we found a tiny fossil from a giant lizard during a two metre deep excavation in one of the Capricorn Caves, near Rockhampton," said vertebrate paleoecologist Gilbert Price.
"The one-centimetre bone, an osteoderm, came from under the lizard's skin and is the youngest record of a giant lizard on the entire continent."
While scientists had long known that the first humans in Australia lived alongside many large types of animals this find represents the first direct evidence that giant lizards were among them.
"It's been long-debated whether or not humans or climate change knocked off the giant lizards, alongside the rest of the megafauna," said Price.
"Humans can only now be considered as potential drivers of their extinction."
Source: Smithsonian Magazine | Comments (11)