Australian scientists has discovered a new species of marsupial lion which has been extinct for at least 19 million years in the Riversleigh World Heritage Area of remote north-western Queensland.
Named in honour of palaeoartist Peter Schouten, Wakaleo schouteni was a predator that stalked Australia’s abundant rainforests some 18 to 26 million years ago in the late Oligocene to early Miocene era.
This meat-eating marsupial is estimated to have been about the size of a dog and weighed around 23 kilograms.
The new species is about a fifth of the weight of the largest and last surviving marsupial lion, Thylacoleo carnifex, that weighed in at around 130 kilograms and which has been extinct for 30,000 years.
Members of this family, the Thylacoleonidae, had highly distinct large, blade-like, flesh-cutting premolars that they used to tear up prey.