Tuesday, June 17, 2008

A Whole Lotta Wombat

Australia 100,000 years ago was a land of remarkable creatures usually called mega-fauna. Scattered hunters back then would have had a bounty of feasting lumbering by. Some new information on one of the biggest of those mega-fauna :
The diprotodon, a 2.5 tonne, wombat-like creature that was the largest marsupial on earth at 1.8 metres tall, above, consisted of a single species when it roamed Australia during the Pleistocene era more than 100,000 years ago, Gilbert Price, of the University of Queensland, has found.
When this land was connected to most of the rest of the world's non-flooded areas, some exceptional evolution took occurred :

Fossilised remains of a dinosaur with a big elbow could rewrite our understanding of how Australian dinosaurs evolved.

Palaeontologist Dr Steve Salisbury from the University of Queensland in Brisbane, and colleagues, say a forearm bone from a meat-eating dinosaur first found in 1989 is likely to be related to a Megaraptor from Argentina.

This is the first evidence linking Australian dinosaurs to those in other Gondwanan continents, rather than from the northern hemisphere...

...Australian dinosaurs have generally been considered an odd breed of their own, descended from northern hemisphere ancestors and evolved in isolation.

Not only were they cut off from the north when Pangea broke up, but they were also cut off from the rest of Gondwana by some means - perhaps the harsh climate of Antarctica or a mountain range.

We produce the world's best actors, many of the world's best directors, studios in Sydney and Melbourne teem with the world's most accomplished special effects technicians and CGI artists, but we have no big-scale movies about our spectacular and very ancient history. Dinosaurs? Who cares? We had Mega-Fauna. Monstrous beasts big enough to ride, then eat.