Saturday, July 15, 2006
FANGED KANGAROOS AND THE "DEMON DUCK OF DOOM" ONCE ROAMED AUSTRALIA
Before there were cuddly koalas, hordes of flesh-eating kangaroos, "demon ducks" and marsupial lions roamed Australia's outback, according to paleontologists' recent fossil discoveries announced Wednesday.
A team from the University of New South Wales working in the eastern state of Queensland made the discoveries in three new fossil deposits. Many of the fossils are older than 24 million years; one of the deposits is thought to contain fossils up to 500 million years old. A saber-toothed kangaroo and a 10-foot-tall bird scientists nicknamed the "demon duck of doom" were among the largely unknown species uncovered. The remains of a meat-eating kangaroo with wolf-like fangs were found as well as a galloping kangaroo with long forearms that could not hop like a modern kangaroo. Because they didn’t hop, these were galloping kangaroos, with big, powerful forelimbs. Some of them had long canines (fangs) like wolves.
The species of large birds found at the dig had well muscled-in teeth, not for grazing. These things had slicing crests that could have crunched through bone and sliced off flesh. Very big birds … more like ducks, earned the name "demon duck of doom", some at least may have been carnivorous as well. The illustration above shows a Goatsucker -- perhaps a relative of the fanged kangaroo.