Dinosaurs & Reptiles

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Quinkana is an extinct genus of mekosuchine, subfamily Mekosuchinae, crocodylians that lived in Australia from ~24 million years ago to ~40,000 years ago. By the Pleistocene Quinkana had become one of the top terrestrial predators of Australia, possessing long legs and ziphodont teeth, which tend to arise in terrestrial crocodilians because, unlike their aquatic cousins, they are unable to dispatch their prey by simply holding them underwater and drowning them.

The name Quinkana comes from the Aboriginal for "native spirit", and the name applied to a legendary folk from Aboriginal myths. The species within Quinkana include: the type species Q. fortirostrum from Queensland of the Pliocene and Pleistocene, Q. babarra from Queensland of the Early Pliocene, Q. timara from the Northern Territory of the Middle Miocene, and Q. meboldi from Queensland of the Late Oligocene. The older species (Q. meboldi and Q. timara) were small in size, about 2m, compared to the large Plio-Pleistocene species which evolved. Quinkana fortirostrum has been estimated to have exceeded 5m in length, making it at the time one of Australia's largest predators, surpassed in size only by the giant monitor lizard, Megalania (Varanus priscus). Fossil records of the Quinkana have been found at Bluff Downs, and at some caves within the Chiltern Mount Pilot National Park.

In certain respects, the Quinkana was a throwback to the prehistoric crocodiles that preceded, and coexisted with, the dinosaurs of the Mesozoic Era: this crocodile possessed relatively long, agile legs, very different from the splayed limbs of modern species, and its teeth were curved and sharp, like those of a tyrannosaur. Based on its distinctive anatomy, it's clear that the Quinkana spent most of its time on land, ambushing its prey from the cover of woodlands (one of its favorite meals may have been Diprotodon, the Giant Wombat). This fearsome crocodile went extinct about 40,000 years ago, along with most of the mammalian megafauna of Pleistocene Australia.


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