Australian Megafauna

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Zygomaturus tasmanicus

Zygomaturus tasmanicus

Zygomaturus is an extinct giant diprotodontid marsupial from Tasmania during the Late Tertiary and Quaternary Periods, 15 million to 15 thousand years ago. A number of skeletons of Zygomaturus Tasmanicus were found preserved in Mowbray Swamp near Smithton in north-west Tasmania in 1912.

The scientific name refers to the broad zygomatic arches (cheek bones) and the three prominent lobes of the premolar teeth. It had a heavy body and thick legs and is believed to be similar to the modern pygmy hippopotamus in both size and build. The genus moved on all fours. The adult Zygomaturus was about 2.5 metres long and about 1 metre high, with an estimated weight of approximately 400kg.

It is believed to have lived solitarily or possibly in small herds. Zygomaturus probably ate reeds and sedges by shoveling them up in clumps with its lower incisor teeth. With its homely, pushed-in face and solid, stout body, Zygomaturus is sometimes called the ‘marsupial rhino’.


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