Marsupial Lion, Thylacoleo carnifex


Lived: 1,600,000 - 40,000 years ago (Pleistocene)

Size: Length (head to tail): 1.5 m; 75cm tall (at the shoulder)

Description: The Pleistocene Marsupial Lion is the largest meat-eating mammal to have lived in Australia, and one of the largest marsupial carnivores the world has ever seen. It would have hunted animals - including the giant Diprotodon - in the forests, woodlands, shrublands and river valleys, as well as around waterholes.

The closest living relatives of this fierce carnivore are the plant-eating wombats and Koala.

Fossils: Fossils of the Pleistocene Marsupial Lion have been found at many sites in Australia. Whole skeletons and skulls have been found. One adult Marsupial Lion was found with a very young baby that would still have been in its mother's pouch, and another, older baby.

Did you know?: The Pleistocene Marsupial Lion was possibly the most specialised marsupial carnivore ever. It has an enormous slicing cheek tooth, large stabbing incisor teeth at the front of its mouth, and a huge thumb claw. The claw may have been used to disembowel its prey, or to hold struggling animals.