Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Extinct carnivorous marsupial may have hunted prey larger than itself

Date:
April 9, 2014
Source:
PLOS
Summary:
The reconstruction of an extinct meat-eating marsupial's skull, Nimbacinus dicksoni, suggests that it may have had the ability to hunt vertebrate prey exceeding its own body size.

This is an illustration of Mid Miocene Nimbacinus dicksoni.
Credit: Anne Musser

The reconstruction of an extinct meat-eating marsupial's skull, Nimbacinus dicksoni, suggests that it may have had the ability to hunt vertebrate prey exceeding its own body size, according to results published April 9, 2014, in the open access journal PLOS ONE by Marie Attard from the University of New England together with colleagues from the University of New South Wales.

Related Articles


Nimbacinus dicksoni is a member of an extinct family of Australian and New Guinean marsupial carnivores, Thylacinidae. Aside from one recently extinct species, the majority of information known about species in this family stems from recovered skull fragments, which limits species ecology and diversity analysis. Scientists recovered a ~16-11.6 million year old preserved skull of N. dicksoni from the Riversleigh World Heritage Fossil Site in northwestern Queensland, Australia, and used it to determine if N. dicksoni was more likely to hunt small or large prey. They applied virtual 3D reconstruction techniques and computer modelling to reconstruct the skull of Nimbacinus, digitally 'crash-testing' and comparing it to models of large living marsupial carnivores (Tasmanian devil, spotted-tailed quoll and northern quoll), and to the recently extinct Tasmanian tiger, N. dicksoni's close relative.

The authors found that the similarity in mechanical performance of the skull between N. dicksoni and the largest quoll, the spotted-tailed quoll, was greater than the similarity to the Tasmanian tiger. The authors suggest that N. dicksoni, a medium-sized marsupial (about 5 kg), had a high bite force for its size, was predominantly carnivorous, and was likely capable of hunting vertebrate prey that exceeded its own body mass.

"Our findings suggest that Nimbacinus dicksoni was an opportunistic hunter, with potential prey including birds, frogs, lizards and snakes, as well as a wide range of marsupials. In contrast, the iconic Tasmanian tiger was considerably more specialized than large living dasyurids and Nimbacinus, and was likely more restricted in the range of prey it could hunt, making it more vulnerable to extinction." Dr Attard explains.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by PLOS. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Marie R. G. Attard, William C. H. Parr, Laura A. B. Wilson, Michael Archer, Suzanne J. Hand, Tracey L. Rogers, Stephen Wroe. Virtual Reconstruction and Prey Size Preference in the Mid Cenozoic Thylacinid, Nimbacinus dicksoni (Thylacinidae, Marsupialia). PLoS ONE, 2014; 9 (4): e93088 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0093088

Cite This Page:

PLOS. "Extinct carnivorous marsupial may have hunted prey larger than itself." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 9 April 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140409204419.htm>.
PLOS. (2014, April 9). Extinct carnivorous marsupial may have hunted prey larger than itself. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 5, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140409204419.htm
PLOS. "Extinct carnivorous marsupial may have hunted prey larger than itself." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140409204419.htm (accessed March 5, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Fossils & Ruins News

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Long-Lost Ship Found? Microsoft Co-Founder Uncovers Wreckage

Long-Lost Ship Found? Microsoft Co-Founder Uncovers Wreckage

Newsy (Mar. 4, 2015) Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen says he has discovered the wreckage of the battleship Musashi in the central Philippines. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ancient Mummified Monk Found Inside Golden Buddha

Ancient Mummified Monk Found Inside Golden Buddha

Reuters - News Video Online (Mar. 4, 2015) A gold statue of Buddha housed at Hungary&apos;s Natural History Museum has been discovered to contain the mummified body of an ancient Chinese monk. Gavino Garay reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Who Was The Wealthy Woman Buried Near King Richard III?

Who Was The Wealthy Woman Buried Near King Richard III?

Newsy (Mar. 3, 2015) A woman thought to have been an important person in Grey Friars monastery was found in a coffin near King Richard III. Her identity is unknown. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Mass Grave Found Under Paris SuperMarket

Mass Grave Found Under Paris SuperMarket

Buzz60 (Mar. 3, 2015) Dozens of bodies were found under the Monoprix Supermarket in Paris. The company called in researchers to inspect the ground underneath where a hospital once existed from the 12th century to the 17th. Patrick Jones (@Patrick_E_Jones) has the details. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins