Palaeontology: Giant kangaroo species discovered - Triops Galaxy

Palaeontology: Unknown giant kangaroo species weighing up to 170 kilograms discovered

Scientists have recently discovered three previously unknown species of giant kangaroos in Australia that lived between 5 million and 40,000 years ago. These species, part of the genus Protemnodon, were some of them twice the size of their modern-day relatives. The researchers from Flinders University in Australia presented their findings in the scientific journal Megataxa.

Weighing 170 kilograms and twice the size of red kangaroos

It is remarkable that a single kangaroo genus like Protemnodon inhabited such a wide variety of habitats, from the arid regions of central Australia to the rainforested mountains of Tasmania and New Guinea, said lead author Isaac Kerr.

According to the researchers, the different species of Protemnodon were very different and adapted to different habitats, which was also reflected in their hopping behaviour.

One species called Protemnodon viator weighed up to around 170 kilograms, about twice the size of the largest male red kangaroos. These were well adapted to the dry conditions in central Australia and had long limbs, which enabled them to hop quickly and efficiently.

Protemnodon mamkurra, on the other hand, were large, powerful kangaroos that were probably slow and inefficient and may have rarely hopped, perhaps only when startled.

The third species, Protemnodon dawsonae, has been identified as a medium-fast hopper, although fewer fossils of this species are known than of the other two.

Although remains of Protemnodon are quite common throughout Australia, often only individual bones have been found, which has made research difficult. Fortunately, a few years ago, several almost complete skeletons were discovered in a lake in southern Australia. For their research, Kerr and his team travelled to collections in various countries and analysed over 800 specimens from across Australia and New Guinea by photographing, 3D scanning, measuring, comparing and describing them.

All Protemnodon species on the Australian mainland became extinct around 40,000 years ago, although closely related species such as wallaroos and grey kangaroos survived.

Sladjan Lazic

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