Saturday, January 27, 2007

A paleontological Rosetta Stone

"Scientists in Australia say they found a trove of prehistoric animal bones -- including those of a large marsupial lion -- that provides strong evidence that it was human beings and not climate change that killed 90 percent of the continent's largest animals about 45,000 years ago.

"In a paper published Tuesday in the journal Nature, scientists led by Gavin Prideaux of the Museum of Western Australian in Perth say they found not only the first complete skeletons of the largest carnivorous marsupial, Thylacoleo carnifex, but also the remains of eight unknown species of kangaroo in a cave system under the arid wastes of the Nullarbor Plain in South Australia.

"The remains, from about 70 different species, date from between 800,000 and 400,000 years ago, when a window to the caves was open for a 10,000-year period ...

"But the real importance is scientific. 'This is a paleontological Rosetta Stone for the Pleistocene period,' he said ..."

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