Skooter reporting 06/26/12
A mass grave that is home to about 50 prehistoric “giant wombats,” the largest known marsupial that ever lived have been discovered by scientists. The Diprotodon skeletons, thought to be between 100,000 and 200,000 years old, were discovered in Queensland, Australia, and represent a prospective historic find, the BBC reports.
Lead scientist Scott Hocknull, from the Queensland Museum in Brisbane said that it's a paleontologist's' goldmine where they can really see what these megafauna were doing, how they actually behaved, what their ecology was. When the initial survey was done, he was just totally blown away by the abundances of these fragments.
The biggest of the specimens has been dubbed "Kenny," and has a 28-inch-wide jawbone. Although they are not exactly the same as the modern day wombat, the Diprotodon is considered a direct descendant of the Australian herbivore.
The Diprotodon were of classic proportions; they are about 10 feet long in length, the size of a rhinoceros and weighed more than 6,000 pounds. They had backward-facing pouches big enough to carry an adult human, according to the BBC.
The 50 specimens were said to be trapped in the boggy area and were most probably killed by prehistoric crocodiles and other lizards, whose skeletons have also been discovered at the site.
Hocknull said that they’re sure that most of these carcasses of Diprotodon have been torn to shreds by both the crocodiles and the lizards, because they’ve found shed teeth within their skeletons from both animals.
About 1.6 million years ago, the giant wombats first appeared in Australia and are believed to have existed there until their disappearance, which occurred about 25,000 to 50,000 years ago. Scientists believed that some form of climate change and hunting from humans seemingly were the factors to the megafauna’s extinction, according to the journal Science.