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Palaeontology

Australia's early lions hunted from trees

By T.K. Randall
February 16, 2016 · Comment icon 8 comments

Prehistoric Australia was filled with a vast assortment of beasts. Image Credit: PD - Karora
A species of prehistoric marsupial lion was able to climb up trees and ambush its prey from above.
The first humans to set foot in Australia around 50,000 years ago would have found a land fraught with dangers at every turn ranging from poisonous snakes and spiders to huge crocodiles and lions.

One of these, a large marsupial feline called Thylacoleo carnifex, has long remained a topic of interest to scientists who have been studying how this ferocious creature lived and hunted.

Most recently a discovery within a cave in Southwest Australia has helped to shed new light on the mystery by indicating that this ancient predator was a lot more agile than previously thought.
Key to this determination was the finding of deep scratch marks in the cave walls which suggested that Thylacoleo carnifex was particularly adept at climbing and navigating steep inclines.

Scientists now believe that this large marsupial feline would have hunted by ambushing its unsuspecting prey from the trees rather than from the undergrowth like modern lions.

"We assumed that they were at least partly arboreal," said paleontologist Mike Archer. "The hind foot has an opposable first toe, the front arm is grasping and the fore limbs are extremely powerful, which is typical of animals that climb, having to pull their body weight up."

"These were hunters that didn't necessarily run down prey, but surprised and lunged at them."

Source: The Guardian | Comments (8)




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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by Sir Wearer of Hats 8 years ago
My family actuslly found part of a jaw of the Thylacaleo out on the Darling Downs in a "fossil fossic" organised by the Queensland Museum. We were there five minutes and mum said "look here" dad did so and voila, jaw bone.
Comment icon #2 Posted by AustinHinton 8 years ago
Nowhere is safe when the pouched lion is on the hunt.
Comment icon #3 Posted by Dragan 8 years ago
No thanks.
Comment icon #4 Posted by BeastieRunner 8 years ago
... how did early man survive? Tree lions ... yikes.
Comment icon #5 Posted by Myles 8 years ago
Very interesting animal. I hadn't really heard of this before. Seems to be like a giant rat with retractable claws like a cat. Australia never ceases to impress.
Comment icon #6 Posted by Ryanyabba 8 years ago
Another name for them is drop bears, still around till this day.
Comment icon #7 Posted by GoldenRabbit 8 years ago
Interesting story
Comment icon #8 Posted by KevinGrimmie 8 years ago
Looks kind of cute. I wanted something more bad-ass


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