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Early Australians lived with giant lizards

Posted on Saturday, 26 September, 2015 | Comment icon 11 comments

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)

Tags: Australia, Lizard

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #2 Posted by Eldorado on 25 September, 2015, 18:53
The Royal Family have always toured.
Comment icon #3 Posted by third_eye on 25 September, 2015, 20:24
Yes .. good eating they were ... `
Comment icon #4 Posted by back to earth on 25 September, 2015, 21:39
yeah ... if you could catch one ... I have also seen an old painting of a bunch of those guys battling a giant snake . A bit south from me in Dhungutti country they say ( at a specific spot) "Dont you kids go up on that mountain - the big wombat will get you . " They have been saying that since they were there. A few years back a giant wombat skeleton fossil was found up there ( well ' found ' , by whitey, that is .... the Kooris found it long ago apparently, or may have lived alongside them. Noooo .... giant wombat ; (Warning; the methane gasses emitted by the giant wombat during testing may ... [More]
Comment icon #5 Posted by back to earth on 25 September, 2015, 21:45
Comment icon #6 Posted by Anomalocaris on 25 September, 2015, 23:55
I'm more a dinosaur fanboy, but this megafauna looks insane. Too bad they can't be resurrected.
Comment icon #7 Posted by ozman on 26 September, 2015, 18:56
Giant lizards sounds like dinosaurs to me.
Comment icon #8 Posted by Immune to Bieberfever on 26 September, 2015, 23:08
I thought they still did.
Comment icon #9 Posted by Paranomali on 27 September, 2015, 11:22
Excellent food source. How scary though seriously, wombats the size of rhinos? Although i'm pretty sure ive seen 7ft roos'
Comment icon #10 Posted by Sundew on 30 September, 2015, 18:33
Yep, one big monitor lizard, about twice the size of a Komodo Dragon, probably also venomous. The Perentie is the largest living monitor to survive in Oz, as least as far as we know, and its pretty formidable.
Comment icon #11 Posted by TheSpoonyOne on 30 September, 2015, 21:51
( well ' found ' , by whitey, that is .... "Whitey"? Come on, mate.

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