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.

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 July 28, 2014 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 July 28, 2014).

Share This




More Fossils & Ruins News

Monday, July 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Did ISIS Destroy Jonah's Tomb?

Did ISIS Destroy Jonah's Tomb?

Newsy (July 25, 2014) Unverified footage posted to YouTube purportedly shows ISIS militants destroying a shrine widely believed to be the tomb of the prophet Jonah. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Europe's Highest Train Turns 80 in French Pyrenees

Europe's Highest Train Turns 80 in French Pyrenees

AFP (July 25, 2014) Europe's highest train, the little train of Artouste in the French Pyrenees, celebrates its 80th birthday. Duration: 01:05 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Richard III's Car Park Burial Site Opens to Public

Richard III's Car Park Burial Site Opens to Public

AFP (July 25, 2014) Visitors will be able to look down from a glass walkway on the grave of King Richard III when a new centre opens in the English cathedral city of Leicester, where the infamous hunchback was found under a car park in 2012. Duration: 00:35 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Mobile App Gives Tour of Battle of Atlanta Sites

Mobile App Gives Tour of Battle of Atlanta Sites

AP (July 25, 2014) Emory University's Center for Digital Scholarship has launched a self-guided mobile tour app to coincide with the 150th anniversary of the Civil War's Battle of Atlanta. (July 25) Video provided by AP
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:
from the past week

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