Researchers have uncovered an extinct type of kangaroo that could CLIMB trees over in Western Australia. Can you bloody imagine? I’m having trouble picturing it, yet I’m amazed and a little terrified at the same time.
Dr Natalie Warburton of Murdoch University and Professor Gavin Prideaux from Flinders University discovered the extinct species of kangaroo after studying fossils found in caves.
The fossils were dug up back in 2002 and 2003 by cavers, Paul Devine and Eve Taylor, in the Nullarbor Plain Thylacoleo Caves and Mammoth Cave of Western Australia.
“The specimens we analysed – including several cranial and two near-complete skeletons – suggests this kangaroo species would climb and ‘move slowly’ through trees,” Dr Warburton said.
Keywords here being “move slowly” and “through trees”.
Researchers sunk hours into identifying and describing the anatomical details of every single bone that was recovered from the skeletons, making this discovery possible.
Dr Warburton explained that unlike other kangaroos and wallabies, the fossils have unusually long fingers and toes with long, curved claws, for gripping.
“[The fossils have] powerful arm muscles to raise and hold themselves up in trees, and a longer, more mobile neck than other kangaroos that would be useful for reaching out the head in different directions for browsing on leaves.”
The researchers also found the new species differed from all other kangaroos because it had a, uh [checks notes] highly unusual pocket within its nose.
Climbing kangaroos aside for a moment, the area the fossils were found in is now basically treeless, suggesting it was really different to what it is now.
“This is unexpected and exciting and it provides us with new information as we try to understand the changing environments of Australia through time,” Dr Warburton said.
This is neither here nor there, but all I can think about now is Australia’s infamous drop bear myth. Except, instead of drop bears, I’m picturing kangaroos dropping down from trees.
Pretty gnarly, if you ask me.