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November 24 2012

Bones of giant tree-wombat unearthed

The fossil discovery of an extinct 70kg tree-dwelling marsupial reveals clues about the impact of climate change on Australia's rainforest habitats.

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 skeletons unearthed in a World Heritage–listed fossil cave in Queensland – published in PlosONE this week – has revealed that 15 million years ago, Australia’s ancient forest canopies were home to herds of 70 kg wombat-like marsupials. These marsupials were called Nimbadon, and were the largest arboreal marsupial herbivores ever known.

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