The largest marsupial in the world lived 1.6 million years ago in Australia. Researchers found a fossilized tooth belonging to this giant creature, called a Diprotodon, which revealed an interesting thing about the animal. Even though it was so big, it seems it used to migrate.
The animal’s tooth showed the migration pattern it followed
The huge marsupial, Diprotodon optatum, weighed around 3,000 kilograms, and reached 1.8 meters in height. This was an unusual appearance for a creature which bore many resemblances to a wombat, and which was also a marsupial. However, this was not the only unusual thing about it.
A team of paleontologists from the University of Queensland stumbled upon a Diprotodon fossilized incisor near Darling Downs, a region in Queensland. They estimated the fossil to be around 300,000 years old. After analyzing it, they established the animal wasn’t sedentary, but walked about 200 kilometers in a year. They published their analysis in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.
This was an unexpected find. Until now, scientists thought marsupials didn’t migrate, and were quite lazy animals in general. The Diprotodon, however, is different, and exhibits a whole new behavior, different from the typical one.
The marsupial was part of the Australian megafauna
This giant marsupial lived during the Pleistocene period, when Australia was populated by the megafauna. This included many other giant animals and plenty of huge marsupials, such as marsupial lions or giant kangaroos. Knowing one species in the megafauna could migrate might offer us some valuable answers, such as the reason for the extinction of these creatures.
Teeth keep track of everything an animal has eaten. Therefore, looking at the chemical composition of the fossil showed the huge marsupial followed a varied diet, originating from different regions of the continent. Researchers observed how the animal was traveling around, and following a pattern from northwest to southeast.
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