Tuesday, May 10, 2011


So based on the past two animals, we've learned that Marsupials evolved traits that were similar to those found in their placental counterparts. But did you also know that there were Marsupial Megafauna, similar to the gigantic animals found elsewhere in the world at around the same time?

While Mammoths roamed North America and Eurasia, and while giant Ground Sloths wandered about South America, Diprotodon made all of Australia its home. Also called "the Giant Wombat," Diprotodon was the largest Marsupial to have ever lived. These Wombat relatives were the size of a Hippopotamus!

Diprotodons lived in open woodland and scrubland habitats, where they fed by browsing with help from their two large front teeth.. They also had large claws on their front feet, which suggests that they could also dig for food. Their pouches were most likely rear-opening, like in modern wombats. This kept the young safe from debris while the mother was digging.

Like most Megafauna, we aren't totally sure why the Diprotodon went extinct. It may have been a climate shift, but it may also have been human involvement. The time of their extinction coincides with the expansion of humans onto the continent, and tool marks have been found on some fossils. In all likelihood though, multiple causes led to the downfall of the world's largest marsupial. Wombats and Koalas carry on their legacy.. albeit in a much, much smaller form.

Status : Extinct for around 45,000 years
Location : Australia
Size : Shoulder height 6.5ft (2m), weight 6,000lbs (2,700kg)
Classification : Phylum : Phylum : Chordata -- Class : Mammalia -- Infraclass : Marsupialia
Order : Diprotodontia -- Family : †Diprotodontidae -- Genus : †Diprotodon

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