A giant wombat the size of a black bear that roamed Australia 25 million years ago has been classified as a new category of marsupial after almost 50 years of study.
The bones of Mukupirna nambensis were unearthed in the clay floor of Lake Pinpa, a remote, dry salt lake east of South Australia’s Flinders Ranges in 1973.
An international team of scientists from various institutions. including the University of NSW and Griffith University, have been studying the remains.
A partial skull and most of the skeleton belonged to animal more than four times the size of modern living wombat s and may have weighed about 150kg.
“An analysis of Mukupirna’s evolutionary relationships reveals that although it was most closely related to wombat s, it is so different from all known wombat s as well as other marsupials, that it had to be placed in its own unique family, the Mukupirnidae,” the researchers said.
He is part of the original international team of palaeontologists that discovered the remains in the clay floor of Lake Pinpa.