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Extinct species of marsupial lion found in Australia

A new species of marsupial lion that has been extinct for 19 million years was recently discovered in a remote part of Queensland, Australia.

The discovery was made by scientists from the University of New South Wales who were excavating in the Riversleigh World Heritage Area.

The researchers found fossilized remains including part of the animal’s skull, teeth, and upper arm bone. After analyzing the fossil pieces, the researchers concluded that it was a newly discovered species that lived 18 to 26 million years ago during the Oligocene and Miocene epochs.

The new species was named Wakaleo schouteni and would have been comparable to a dog in size and have hunted in Australia’s ancient rainforests.

The findings were featured in the Journal of Systematic Paleontology.

According to the UNESCO World Heritage Organization, Riversleigh is one of the world’s top ten richest fossils sites.

This discovery follows another new marsupial lion that was uncovered in the same site a year prior named Microleo attenboroughi.

Wakaleo schouteni is now thought to be one of two marsupial lion species that lived during the late Oligocene epoch, the other species being Wakaleo pitikantensis, first discovered in South Australia in 1961.

The two species are extremely similar and are most likely the earliest members of their genus, according to the researchers.

“The identification of these new species have brought to light a level of marsupial lion diversity that was quite unexpected and suggests even deeper origins for the family,” said Gillespie.

By Kay Vandette, Staff Writer

Image Credit: Illustration by Peter Schouten in the Journal of Systematic Palaeontology

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