Australia: The Land Where Time Began

A biography of the Australian continent 

Megafauna Extinction

At the time when the rest of the continents were populated by a megafauna comprised of placental mammals, Australian had a marsupial megafauna, as well some of the largest known flightless birds of all time from anywhere in the world, and the biggest ever lizard, the giant monitor, Megalania prisca.

A feature of the Australian megafauna that distinguishes it from the megafauna elsewhere in the world is the relative paucity of predators. Among the megafauna were only a few carnivores, the marsupial lion (Thylacoleo carnifex), the giant monitor (Megalania prisca), the thylacine (Thylacinus), only about the size of a dog, and apparently the only cursorial predator present, the others appearing to be comparatively lumbering, as were most of their prey. Even the giant kangaroos are believed to have move much slower than their present day kangaroos and wallabies. Also lurking in the bush in earlier times was what is believed to have been possibly a terrestrial crocodile (Quinkana fortirostrum), of medium size, about 200 kg, that had teeth similar to those of carnivorous dinosaurs. There was also a very large riverine crocodile (Pallimnarchus pollens). A petroglyph found at the Panarammitti North site in the Olary area of South Australia bears a strong resemblance to the skull of Q. fortirostrum. The petroglyph is now in the South Australian Museum. Great age can be inferred for this petroglyph by the thick layer of desert varnish covering it.

Diprotodontoids, Diprotodon obtatum,, Zygomaturus
Giant echidna
Giant Flightless Birds, Bullockornis planei, Dromornis stirtoni, Dromornis australis
Giant kangaroo, Procoptodon goliah, Protemnodon, Macropus titan
Giant goanna, Megalania prisca
Large crocodiles, Pallimnarchus pollens, Quinkana fortirostrum
Large snakes, Wanambi, Montypythonoides riverleighensis, Morelia antiquus, Yurlunggur camfieldensis
Marsupial Lions
Palorchestes azeal

Megafauna marsupials that became extinct at the end of the Pleistocene

Diprotodon optatum
D. minor
Euryzygoma dunense
Euwenia grota
Lasiorhinus angustioens
Macropus ferragus
M. pearsoni
M. piltonensis
M. roma
M. Thor
Nototherium mitchelli
Palorchestes azeal
P. parvus
Phascolonus gigas
Phascolomys medius
Procoptodon goliah
P. pusio
P. rapha
P. texasensis
Propleopus oscillans
Protemnodon anak
P. brehus
P. roechus
Ramsayia magna
Simosthenurus brownei
S. gilli
S. maddocki
S. occidentalis
S. orientalis
S. pales
Sthenurus andersoni
S. atlas
S. oreas
S. tindalei
Troposodon minor
Thylacoleo carnifex
Vombatus hacketti
Warendja wakefieldi
Zaglossus hacketti
Z. ramsayi

See Cuddie Springs and Pleistocene Fauna Extinction not by Overkill

Sources & Further reading

Death of the Megabeasts, DVD, Madman, SBS
Josephine Flood, Archaeology of the Dreamtime, J. B. Publishing, 2004
Chris Johnson, Australia's Mammal Extinctions, a 50,000 year history, Cambridge University Press, 2006


  1. The Age of the Megafauna
  2. Australian Beasts
  3. Australian Museum
  4. A comparison of megafaunal biodiversity in 2 contrasting submarine canyons on Australia's southern continental margin


Author: M. H. Monroe
Last updated 20/03/2017




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