Marsupial Lions Once Roamed Australia

Of course, Australia had marsupial lions.

If any country were to have a marsupial lion hybrid, it would be Australia.

Aussie researchers have discovered the fossils of a terrifying-looking, sharp-fanged lion-marsupial.
The discovery was made after some teeth were found poking out from a small piece of rock in rural Queensland around 30 years ago. The initial finding led researchers along a path that revealed more parts of the animal across the remote north-west of the state.

Scientists believe the animal was about as big as a medium-sized dog, weighing approximately 23 kg. The new species ‘Wakaleo Schouteni’ was named in honour of Peter Schouten, the artist brought the creature to life in a picture.

Lead author, palaeontologist Dr Anna Gillespie from the University of New South Wales believes the animal lived in Australia’s rainforests about 18 million to 26 million years ago.

"The little guys would be cute except I wouldn't want to put my finger in their mouth," Dr Gillespie told the Sydney Morning Herald.

"..The tooth blade's around about a centimetre long, it's enough to make a nice incision."

This finding comes just a year after finding a miniature sized marsupial lion, about the size of a kitten, Microleo attenboroughi, named after the famous David Attenborough.

Scientists speculate the animal’s diet contained some vegetation, given its broad molars at the back of its mouth but mainly lived off meat-heavy diets consisting of small animals such as birds, lizards and possums. Gillespie explains:

"The identification of these new species have brought to light a level of marsupial lion diversity that was quite unexpected and suggest even deeper origins for the family."

Read more about the extinct marsupial lion here.

Just another species to add to the list of Australian animals that could potentially kill you.

Lead Image: Reconstruction of Wakaleo schouteni challenging the thylacinid Nimbacinus dicksoni over a kangaroo carcass in the late Oligocene forest at Riversleigh. Credit: Peter Schouten in the Journal of Systematic Palaeontology

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