Holy Cow! Or holy wombat, perhaps. The fossils of a wombat the size of a rhinocerous have been unearthed in Australia.
Some stats on this wombat, some of which might make your jaw drop:
- weighed approximately 3 tons, similar size to a rhinocerous or car
- 6 feet, 6 inches tall; 11 feet, 6 inches long
- largest marsupial known to have roamed the Earth
- lived ~2 million to 50,000 years ago (yes, crossed paths with humans, but quickly went extinct after indigenous tribes arrived in Australia, but human role in their extinction still not clear)
“They basically looked a lot like a wombat, a very big beefed-up wombat, much bigger than obviously anything that’s around today,” said Sue Hand, a professor on the team that made the discovery.
Killed off by humans or climate change? It’s unclear still, but we may get some good clues about the answer from this discovery.
“There’s been a lot of debate about what killed the megafauna and it’s quite a hot topic in paleontology…. It will be very interesting to see its age and if people came in first, for instance, from the north. There could be some very interesting data to be extracted from this find.”
A little info on the wombats alive today, from Wikipedia:
Wombats are Australian marsupials; they are short-legged, muscular quadrupeds, approximately 1 metre (39 in) in length with a short, stubby tail. They are adaptable in their habitat tolerances, and are found in forested, mountainous, and heathland areas of south-eastern Australia, including Tasmania, as well as an isolated patch of about 300 ha in Epping Forest National Park in central Queensland. The name wombat comes from the aborigines that originally inhabited the Sydney area.
Interesting creatures. Hard to imagine what a humongous like the skeleton of the one just found in Australia would look like in real life.