Australian researchers have discovered the remains of a new primitive marsupial species. MTI reported that the massive animal that lived 3.5 million years ago could have weighed up to 250 kilograms and was capable of traveling long distances in search of water and food.
The remains discovered in central Australia in 2017 were analyzed using a 3D imaging device and, in a study published Wednesday, determined that they are a new species compared to those known so far, the largest marsupials ever to live.
The Flinders University researchers hypothesize that the closest living relative of the dioecious animal called Ambulator keanei may be the wombat. The primitive marsupial lived in the Pliocene, 2.5-5.3 million years ago, a period when Australia became drier and grasslands spread.
Most herbivores alive today, such as elephants and rhinos, are tiptoeers, meaning that their heels don’t touch the ground when they walk. On the other hand, animals belonging to the order Diprotodontia walk on their feet, that is, like humans, their heel bone touches the ground when walking
– said Jacob van Zoelen, one of the authors of the study that presented the new primrose. Thanks to this design, the weight is evenly distributed over the legs while walking, but at the same time it takes more energy when running.