Articles on Megafauna

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Diprotodon, the largest ever marsupial, probably died out at human hands. Peter Murray (courtesy of Chris Johnson)

New analysis finds no evidence that climate wiped out Australia’s megafauna

What killed off Australia's giant wombats and other megafauna? New dating once again points the finger at human hunters, rather than abrupt changes to the climate.
An artist’s reconstruction of what the giant bird Dromornis would look like. Genyornis would be similar but slightly smaller. Peter Trusler

A case of mistaken identity for Australia’s extinct big bird

Our entire knowledge of one of Australia's extinct ancient giant birds is flawed because experts have been looking at remnants of the wrong egg the whole time.
Examining a model of the ancient fish Mandageria fairfaxi, the new fossil emblem for NSW are (l-r) NSW MP Anthony Roberts, director and CEO of the Australian Museum Kim McKay, NSW MPs Andrew Gee and Troy Grant, and Dr Ian Percival from the Geological Survey of NSW. AAP Image/Supplied

Australia needs more state fossil emblems, but let the public decide

Every state and territory in Australia should have one: a fossil emblem. Not only can they be good for tourism but they can also help teach people about the ancient history of the regions.
Abrupt warming events may have helped kill off megafauna species like the mammoth. AAP Image/James Shrimpton

Abrupt climate warming, not cold snaps, kicked off megafauna extinction: study

New research challenges previously held views that the Ice Age, giant biblical floods or hunting by humans were the key drivers behind the disappearance of megafauna.
Modern day kangaroos exhibit a hopping form of locomotion. Leo/Flickr

Giant kangaroos were more likely to walk than hop

Extinct giant kangaroos may have been built more for walking, rather than hopping like today’s kangaroos, especially when moving slowly. These sthenurine kangaroos existed until around 30,000 years ago…
Why are the megafauna no longer with us? Flickr/avlxyz

Did fire kill off Australia’s megafauna?

Australia was once home to gigantic reptiles, birds and marsupials, but sadly they’re no longer with us. What happened to them has been a source of ongoing debate, whether it was human hunting, climate…
Megafauna such as Glyptodon were muck-spreaders. Pavel Riha

Megafauna extinction affects ecosystems 12,000 years later

If Earth were like a human body, large animals might be its arteries, moving nutrients from where they’re abundant to where they’re needed. Currently the planet has large regions where life is limited…
Barren and isolated, Riversleigh is actually one of the most important fossil sites in the world. Riversleigh from Shutterstock.

Unknown wonders: Riversleigh

Australia is famous for its natural beauty: the Great Barrier Reef, Uluru, Kakadu, the Kimberley. But what about the places almost no one goes? We asked ecologists, biologists and wildlife researchers…
Giant creatures such as the marsupial ‘lion’ (Thylacoleo carnifex) didn’t die out from hunting. Peter Schouten

Climate change wiped out Australia’s megafauna

Throughout the Ice Age that characterised our planet for much of the last two million years or so mainland Australia, Tasmania and New Guinea formed a single landmass — Sahul. It was a strange and often…
Fossils found in Queensland have added another gigantic creature to Australia’s prehistoric mammals. Peter Schouten/PloSONE

Fossils reveal Australia’s tree-top heavyweight herbivore

In Australia today, the biggest tree-dwelling mammals are our iconic and much loved koala and the enigmatic Bennett’s tree-kangaroo. The largest males of both species weigh a mere 14 kg. But a study of…
There’s not much left to show megafauna were hunted, but that doesn’t prove they weren’t. Peter Murray

Hunting or climate change? Megafauna extinction debate narrows

What is the oldest debate in Australian science? Probably, the argument over what caused extinction of our Pleistocene megafauna – the diprotodons, giant kangaroos, marsupial tapirs, über-echidnas and…

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