Fossils of a new species of giant wombat discovered in Australia

(ORDO NEWS) — Fossil bones of a giant wombat have been discovered in Australia.

A complete skull of this animal was found in Rockhampton Cave in Queensland. The find is estimated to be about 80,000 years old, according to a team led by Associate Professor Julien Louis of the Center for Human Evolution Research at Griffith University. In this case, the animal really belongs to wombats.

“Usually a giant wombat is called a diprotodon. This is not true, since diprotodon belongs to a different family, it’s like calling a hippopotamus a giant pig, Luis explains.

“There were, however, real giant wombats. Traditionally, they were little known, but the discovery of the most complete skull of one of these giants has given us the opportunity to reconstruct what this creature looked like, where and when it lived, and how the giant wombats evolved in Australia.

Initial analysis showed that this wombat had large cranial sinuses not previously seen in members of this family.

“This indicates that the wombat had a large rounded skull for the attachment of specific and strong chewing muscles,” the scientists say. The giant wombat also possessed a spike at the front of its snout, most likely associated with its large nose.

The authors of the work believe that different types of giant wombats in the course of evolution first increased in size, and then divided into several specialized species to feed on different plant foods.

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