Giant wombat graveyard found in Australia

Australian scientists have uncovered the skeletons of more than four dozen “giant wombats,” extinct creatures that are believed to have been the largest marsupials ever to roam the Earth.

The find, in Queensland, Australia, of about 50 diprotodons, believed to be between 100,000 and 200,000 years old, has been called a “paleontologists’ goldmine,” according to the BBC.

The plant-eating giants grew to the size of a rhinoceros and had backward-facing pouches big enough to carry an adult human, the report added.

“When we did the initial survey I was just completely blown away by the concentrations of these fragments,” said lead scientist Scott Hocknull, from the Queensland Museum in Brisbane.

“It’s a paleontologists’ goldmine where we can really see what these megafauna were doing, how they actually behaved, what their ecology was,” he added. “With so many fossils it gives us a unique opportunity to see these animals in their environment, basically, so we can reconstruct it.”

Diprotodons were part of a group of unusual species collectively called the “Australian megafauna.” They existed from approximately 1.6 million years ago until extinction around 46,000 years ago.

The closest surviving relatives of diprotodon are the modern wombats, which grow to about 40 inches, and the koala.

The “mega-wombats” appeared to have been trapped in boggy conditions while taking refuge from dry conditions, Hocknull said.

The remote desert site contains one huge specimen, nicknamed “Kenny,” which is one of the best-preserved and biggest examples ever discovered. Its jawbone alone is 28 inches long, according to the BBC.

The site is also home to an array of other prehistoric species, including the teeth of a 20-foot lizard called megalania and the teeth and bony back-plates of an enormous prehistoric crocodile.

“We’re almost certain that most of these carcasses of diprotodon have been torn apart by both the crocodiles and the lizards, because we’ve found shed teeth within their skeletons from both animals,” Hocknull said.

The diprotodon inhabited forests, open woodland and scrub.

6 thoughts on “Giant wombat graveyard found in Australia

  1. I love wombats but there is no way I would want one of these guys digging up my garden 🙂

    Imagine if all those giant extinct animals from around the world were still with us. Life certainly would be far more interesting!

  2. Wouldn’t that be something! I’ve seen replicas of giant armadillos, which were the size of small cars, and wholly mammoths, which were bigger than elephants, and it must have been a truly awe-inspiring world.

    • And scary! In the Melbourne Museum there is a replica skeleton of a 5 metre lizard called a Megalania. Apparently they existed in Australia until about 40,000 years ago. Imagine going for a walk with the dog and coming across one of them!

      Can you imagine the types of houses we would live in if we had to share space with the giant armadillos or Megalania and the multitude of other huge creatures that no longer exist? It boggles the mind!

  3. We have lots of wombats in the area where I live and they are a force to be reckoned with at this size, I could only imagine a giant one to be akin to an unstoppable mac truck. Great post Cheers

    • There aren’t any wombats in my neck of the woods. However, judging what I’ve heard about them and given their present-day size, it’s hard to imagine them 25 times larger. Thank you for your comment.

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