Behaviour of the Pleistocene marsupial lion deduced from claw marks in a southwestern Australian cave

Samuel Arman, Gavin Prideaux

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    3 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    The marsupial lion, Thylacoleo carnifex, was the largest-ever marsupial carnivore, and is one of the most iconic extinct Australian vertebrates. With a highly-specialised dentition, powerful forelimbs and a robust build, its overall morphology is not approached by any other mammal. However, despite >150 years of attention, fundamental aspects of its biology remain unresolved. Here we analyse an assemblage of claw marks preserved on surfaces in a cave and deduce that they were generated by marsupial lions. The distribution and skewed size range of claw marks within the cave elucidate two key aspects of marsupial lion biology: they were excellent climbers and reared young in caves. Scrutiny of >10,000 co-located Pleistocene bones reveals few if any marsupial lion tooth marks, which dovetails with the morphology-based interpretation of the species as a flesh specialist.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number21372
    Number of pages8
    JournalScientific Reports
    Volume6
    Issue numberArt: 21372
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 15 Feb 2016

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