Friday, September 09, 2016

Microleo attenboroughi: a Fossil Marsupial Carnivore From Miocene Neogene Australia

It weighed a little more than that 20-ounce bottle of Mountain Dew on your desk and is named after one of the giants in nature broadcasting: Meet the pocket-sized marsupial lion that you wish you could have met for real 19 million years ago.

Microleo attenboroughi is the latest fascinating fossil to emerge from northern Australia, which earlier this year gave us the hypercarnivore Whollydooleya tomnpatrichorum (go on, just say that name aloud. You know you want to). Researchers unearthed M. attenboroughi at the fossiliferous Riversleigh UNESCO World Heritage Site and dated the animal to about 19 million years ago, when the area was a lush rainforest.

Named in honor of beloved broadcaster Sir David Attenborough (also arguably the world’s most famous naturalist and, come on, the guy everyone wishes would turn up at a dinner party), this mini-marsupial got his academic debut this week in the online, open-access Palaeontologia Electronica.

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