New Type of Lion the Size of a ‘Pussy Cat’ Discovered in Australia

(TMU) — A new type of lion that once roamed Australia tens of millions of years ago has been discovered in Queensland and confirmed as a brand-new genus.

The marsupial lion was roughly the size of a domesticated house cat but still would have had many animals “shaking in their boots,” according to researchers.

The unique creature is the subject of a study published this month in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology and written by Anna Gillespie, Michael Archer, and Suzanne Hand of the University of New South Wales. The fossil was originally discovered at the Riversleigh World Heritage in 1997 by Dr. Gillespie.

Dr. Archer told ABC:

“I would think that many of the animals in the Riversleigh ancient rainforest would have been shaking in their little furry boots when they saw this animal come along.”

After the marsupial lion’s remains were found, Gillespie named the cat Priscileo roskellyae—a reference to former federal minister Ros Kelly—but it will now be reclassified as Lekaneleo roskellyae after the team noticed that the lion’s teeth set it apart from the Priscileo genus.

Continuing, Dr. Archer said:

“This little guy that we’re calling Lekaneleo roskellyae … was one of the tiniest marsupial lions we’ve ever seen. It was actually like a pussy cat in size.

What we’ve progressively found at Riversleigh, where there’s been an amazing window of understanding about the evolution of this very strange group of marsupials, is that they started out as really tiny animals, smaller than a pussy cat.

In Australia, the marsupial lions were the supremely specialized carnivores throughout at least the last 30 million years of Australian history.

And this guy, this new one, we’ve only just recognized is highly different than any of the other previous ones we’ve seen—that’s why it’s been described now as a new genus of marsupial lion.”

Continuing, Dr. Archer noted that the lion’s teeth were incredibly sharpso much so that they were “capable of slicing straight through bones.”

He added:

“They had an extraordinary, elongated, bolt-cutting type of premolar.

This was the most extraordinary adaptation or evolution that a carnivorous mammal has ever developed anywhere in the world.”

The genus joins the thylacine or “Tasmanian tiger” as well as the massive diprotodonthe largest marsupial ever discoveredas long-extinct species that once roamed the island continent.

However, the recent bushfire crisis has raised alarm among scientists and conservationists about the plight of many of Australia’s native species, including such marsupials as the koala and platypus. The massive loss of life has had a harsh impact on biodiversity in a country where 87 percent of wildlife is endemic, meaning it can only be found on Australia.

Dr. Archer said that the extinctions should serve as a lesson to today’s generations. He explained:

“These forests were ever so much more complex than anything you may see now in the wet tropics.

It makes us understand that the total effect that has happened in Australia is a steady loss of the complexities that was normal in the forests in Australia.

We see over time, as climates have changed, as the rainforests have retreated to the edges of the continent, the biodiversity of Australia has steadily shrunk.

There is a message here of course and it’s that if we keep allowing the earth’s temperature to rise, we are going to see a massive loss of biodiversity.”

By Elias Marat | Creative Commons | TheMindUnleashed.com

Source Article from https://themindunleashed.com/2020/02/new-type-of-lion-the-size-of-a-pussy-cat-discovered-in-australia.html

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