Earth exploration is never fully done. There is so much hidden under layers of soil that we don’t even know. All those remains of earlier eras are like a window through which we can learn about our plant’s history. The coolest fossils to discover are, without a doubt, dinosaur bones. But other extinct animals are definitely a close second. A recent excavation in the Australian outback uncovered fossil remains of an extinct marsupial lion. And that’s not even the most exciting thing about this discovery! 23 million years ago, this newly discovered species got the name Lekaneleo Roskellyae and it used to roam the rainforests of Queensland, Australia.
Here, kitty, kitty
Anna Gillespie, Suzanne Hand, and Michael Archer of the University of New South Wales are the three researchers who found the lion. They made the discovery while working at the Riversleigh World Heritage Area in Queensland, which is known for holding many fossils within its soil. Over the years, fossils have been discovered at Riversleigh that date back 15 million to 23 million years ago!
This marsupial lion is one of the smallest lion species known to man to date. It’s about the size of a regular house cat, but don’t let that size fool you. The canines on this mysterious feline are so sharp they can cut through bone, making almost any prey helpless in its presence. It is not the only species of marsupial lion, but hose razor-sharp teeth are something no other similar species has! According to the researchers who found it, this lion was feared by all the other animals at the Riversleigh rainforest.
While we do identify the Lekaneleo Roskellyae as some type of lion, it is highly different than common lions found in Africa or Asia. Australian wildlife has evolved independently and in a location far away from any other continent, and this is why animals endemic to Australia are so different than the ones found elsewhere. So far, the biggest Australian carnivore known to have lived in Australia is the Thylacoleo Carnifex, which was also a marsupial lion and weighed around 350 pounds.