Wombat The Size Of A Rhinoceros, Diprotodon, Found In Australia
Scientists in Australia have uncovered an ancient wombat the size of a rhinoceros, The Telegraph reports.
"It was the biggest of them all – the biggest marsupial that ever lived on any continent," Professor Sue Hand, a paleontologist at the University of New South Wales, told Australian Geographic.
The plant-eating diprotodon, a relative of the modern wombat, roamed Australia 2.5 million years ago and became extinct around 55,000 years ago. The fossil of the car-sized creature found in Australia is the most complete skeleton of its kind, AFP reports. According to the Daily Mail, the giant wombat weighs around three tons and stretches up to 14 feet long.
The area, on the Leichhardt River between Normanton and Burketown, has been a trove of giant creature fossils. Palaeontologists have been searching there for more than 40 years and have found evidence of Australian megafauna such as giant kangaroos and giant lizards.
According to AFP, because the fossil is so well-preserved, it could shed important insight into what exactly caused the demise of the "mega-wombat" creatures.
Along with Australia's other megafauna, which included towering kangaroos and gigantic crocodiles, diprotodon became extinct around the same time that indigenous tribes first appeared and debate has raged about the role of humans.
Climate change could have also played an important role in the extinction of diprotodon, perhaps in some combination with human interactions, according to The Telegraph.