New Species of Dog-Size Marsupial Lion Discovered
The creature climbed trees in Australia tens of millions of years ago, contemporary with another marsupial lion species.
Marsupial lions come in all sizes. Previous research suggests some of the mammals were as small as squirrels, and researchers today are saying a new species was dog-sized.
A team at the University of New South Wales published a paper in the Journal of Systematic Palaeontology on December 6 describing Wakaleo schouteni, a prehistoric species of marsupial lion. By studying the fossilized remains of the animal's teeth, skull, and humerus, the researchers determined the 50-pound climber roamed rainforests about 18 to 26 million years ago, during the late Oligocene and early Miocene eras. The predator ranged from dog-size to leopard-size, and had a short head and large, blade-like teeth that could slice through flesh and munch on vegetation.