Australia: The Land Where Time Began

A biography of the Australian continent 

Simosthenurus occidentalis

This extinct species of leaf-eating kangaroo was about the size of a medium sized grey kangaroo but was much more heavily built, with longer arms, a broader pelvis and short neck, all considered to be adaptations to a browsing method of feeding. It had a single-toed hind foot with nails that were small and hoof-like, of the type seen in animals living in relatively flat habitats such as plains. Its teeth were adapted to eating tough leaves, having sharp ridges (striations), set in powerful jaws.

Simosthenurus (with extremely short skulls) was 1 of the 2 main genera of Sthenurines during the Pleistocene, the other being Sthenurus, species with longer skulls.

Species of Simosthenurus had hip bones that were long and sturdy, though lower leg segments that were relatively short. It has been suggested that this fitted them better for short bursts of short hopping than for the maintenance of high speed over long distances, which suggests their escape strategy may have been to short sprints to cover.


A heavily built wallaby-like animal that weighed about 200 kg and, as with Procoptodon, had distinctive feet with a large 4th toe and side toes that were greatly reduced. It seems they probably inhabited the drier parts of Australia, browsing on chenopods, saltbush and bluebush (10).


Naracoorte fossils

Sources & Further reading

  1. Johnson, Chris, 2006, Australia's Mammal Extinctions, a 50,000 year history, Cambridge University Press.
  2. Cane, Scott, 2013, First Footprints: The epic story of the first Australians, Allen & Unwin

Scott Cane has included in his book, written as a companion to the ABC TV series of the same name, a number of stories from his days living among Aboriginal people in the desert and moving around with them.


Author: M. H. Monroe
Last updated 08/11/2013

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