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03. Scott Hocknull - Dinosaur Man

Mt Etna DASYURIDS AND MEGAFAUNA

Images of Sacrophilus Sacrophilus by Arthur Chapman

Images of Sacrophilus by Arthur Chapman, Creative Commons licence BY-NC-SA; Planigale by dnatheist, Creative Commons licence BY; Antechinus by Badoo tealeaf, Creative Commons licence BY.

Marsupial carnivores are diverse and abundant throughout the deposits. Some of them share striking similarities to species now only found in New Guinea.

Illustrations of Diprotodon, Thylacoleo (marsupial lion) and Palorchestes (marsupial tapir) by artist Robert Allen

Illustrations of Diprotodon, Thylacoleo (marsupial lion) and Palorchestes (marsupial tapir) by artist Robert Allen,
© Queensland Museum.

Mt Etna gives us a unique insight into what makes up an Australian rainforest megafauna. The site provides the first direct evidence of Quaternary rainforest megafauna in Australia. Pre-human climate change may have been enough to cause their extinction. Alternatively, it may have been the combination of climate change, human hunting, and habitat modification brought about by the use of fire.

Found in these deposits are the earliest Australian records of the:

  • Marsupial lion (Thylacoleo hilli). This was a carnivorous tree-dweller. This species weighed only about 50-65 kilograms. It may have hunted Diprotodons and giant kangaroos.
  • Marsupial tapir (Palorchestes pickeringi). The marsupial tapir was a diprotodontid with long claws and trunk. This species may have weighed 500 kilograms or more.