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An Unforgettable Bite

explanatory Essay
1595 words
1595 words
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Australia is a large island continent that holds some of the most diverse range of biogeography regions. It is the home to the endemic order of Marsupialia. These mammals are unique to the rest of the Mammalia class due to the fact that the female possesses a skin pouch. Some of the more well-known marsupials that exist today are the kangaroo, the wombat, and the koala (Thylacoleo Carnifex 2011). However, most individuals today are unaware of a species of carnivorous marsupials that once roamed Australia over 6,000 years ago. Thylacoleo carnifex, or better known as the marsupial lion, was the largest meat-eating mammal known to exist in Australia (Campbell 1999). its name Thylacoleo, meaning pouch lion, and carnifex, meaning butcher or tormentor perfectly fits its predator status. Although its name might suggest that it was a close relative of present day lions, T. carnifex was more closely related to koalas (Campbell 1999).

The remains of the first marsupial lion were originally discovered by Thomas Mitchell from the Wellington Valley in New South Whales in the early 1830s (Owen 1887). Mitchell came to the conclusion that a large extinct carnivore had existed previously because of a fossilized tooth that he discovered in the valley. All future fossil remains from there and other localities were sent to British paleontologist, Sir Richard Owen. In 1859, Owen was the first to describe the fossil and referred it to the extinct species Thylacoleo carnifex. This would be one of the first mammal fossils discovered in Australia. Owen would described the creature as “one of the fellest and most destructive of predatory beasts” (Owen 1887). For the next 100 years, the lion was only found in small fragmented fossils (Owen 1887).

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...s do not suggest attempts at breakage (Horton and Wright 1981).

Perhaps it is too premature to explore an additional paleoecological implication, namely that the human that had settled in Australia from the land bridge were in competition with Thylacoleo carnifex for the resources of meat from the megafauna (Horton and Wright 1981). To date, there has not been any archeological discovery that has been found which from fossil record predicts that humans might have been killing and eating the megafauna and depleting the supply of food for Thylacoleo carnifex. From the fossil record, we can only describe how the animal could have lived and its diet. There is not yet enough evidence that proves that humans killed off the lions. However, like most of the megafauna that died off after the ice age, the Thylacoleo carnifex could not adapt well enough (Trivedi 2004).

In this essay, the author

  • Explains that australia is home to the endemic order of marsupialia, a species of meat-eating mammal that roamed australia over 6,000 years ago.
  • Explains that the first marsupial lion was discovered by thomas mitchell from the wellington valley in new south whales in the early 1830s.
  • Explains that owen wanted to experiment on freshly discovered bones to observe the range of marks that were produced on them. owen believed that thylacoleo carnifex evolved as a large mammal
  • Explains that during the pleistocene epoch, many large events occurred throughout the world. as sea levels fell, there formed many land bridges that connected continents.
  • Analyzes how owen observes that the condyle of thylacoleo carnifex is extended and convex like in a modern day lion or tiger.
  • Explains that thylacoleo carnifex has evolved to have a brachycephalic skull structure. the eye sockets are directed interiorly providing excellent binocular vision.
  • Explains that thylacoleo carnifex had powerful, scissor-like jaws on the mandible, allowing for tremendous force to be applied up them from the adductor muscles.
  • Explains that the marsupial lion had the most powerful bite of any mammal ever in existence. a team of australian scientists led by stephen wroe estimated the size of its "bite force".
  • Explains that thylacoleo carnifex had retractable claws in its thumb, which were used as hooks when it needed to bring a prey down into the ground.
  • Explains that the bear-like animal was more stocky than a cat, and had short bursts of speed where it would stalk up and pounce on its prey, essential to its hunting behavior and survival.
  • Explains that thylacoleo carnifex was designed to hunt and kill. it was estimated to come anywhere from 100 kg to 200 kg depending on the sex of the individual.
  • Opines that it is premature to explore an additional paleoecological implication, namely that the human that had settled in australia from the land bridge were in competition with thylacoleo carnifex for the resources of the megafauna
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