Whollydooleya: Ancient Australian Marsupial Weighed Twice as Much as Tasmanian Devil

Posted on July 25, 2016

Whollydooleya tomnpatrichorum size comparison

Scientists have discovered the fossil of an ancient Australian marsupial. The flesh-eating Whollydooleya tomnpatrichorum inhabited Australia's drying forests in what is now a remote area of northwestern Queensland.

Scientists say the hypercarnivore weighed about 20 to 25 kilograms (44 to 55 pounds), which is at least twice as much as the Tasmanian Devil, which weighs in at about 10 kilogram. It lived about 5 million years ago. Stereophotographs of a lower molar of the marsupial are pictured below.

Whollydooleya tomnpatrichorum molar

UNSW Professor Mike Archer says in a statement, "W. tomnpatrichorum had very powerful teeth capable of killing and slicing up the largest animals of its day."

The researchers say the Whollydooleya is the first of multiple strange new animals to be identified form a recently discovered fossil site in Queensland dubbed New Riversleigh. The site is located beyond the internationally famous Riversleigh World Heritage Area fossil deposits. It was detected using remote sensing using satellite data.

A research paper on the new species can be found here on the Museum Victoria website.

Illustration: Karen Black/UNSW

Image: Suzanne Hand/UNSW

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