Thursday, July 7, 2011

One Big Wombat

The wombat is a small marsupial native to Australia and New Zealand. These herbivores live in burrows and are primarily nocturnal, so they are not commonly seen; however, a wombat skeleton recently unearthed in northern Australia proves that they may have not been so small a million years ago.

Common Wombat - Photo: JJ Harrison
Modern wombats are about three feet long and weigh 40-70lbs. The skeleton that was dug up, called diprotodon, indicates an ancient wombat relative that was over six feet tall and 11 feet long, weighing as much as 6000lbs. The fossil represents the most complete diprotodon skeleton ever found, and may offer paleontologists further insight as to why these large animals went extinct.

Source: Discovery News

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