Research News

Climate change the likely killer of Australian marsupial lion

Larisa DeSantis (Jenny Mandeville/Vanderbilt University)

The extinction of one of Australia’s top predators, Thylacoleo carnifex – aka the marsupial lion – was likely a result of changing weather patterns and loss of habitat rather than human impacts, new research has found.

Larisa DeSantis, assistant professor of Earth and environmental sciences, and paleontologists from University of New South Wales Sydney, University of Queensland addressed the question about the demise of the marsupial lion by looking into the powerful carnivore’s chemistry.

By studying the chemical signature preserved within fossil teeth, the team was able to determine that the marsupial lion hunted primarily in forests, rather than open habitats. This is supported by features of the skeleton that indicate it was an ambush hunter, relying on catching its prey unaware rather than running them down across an open landscape.

Read more at the UNSW Sydney website.