Diprotodontid Diprotodon optatum
This was the first fossil mammal
from Australia given a name (in 1838). Meaning "two forward teeth,"
Diprotodon featured two incisors that
jutted straight out from its upper jaw, giving it a buck-toothed look. It may
have sported a trunk as well, though experts will never be sure unless they
turn up a mummified carcass (like the dessicated remains of giant ground sloths
found in caves in the Americas) or perhaps unequivocal rock drawings by ancient
Aborigines, who are known to have lived alongside diprotodontids for at least
10,000 years. From its teeth, experts have determined that the plant-eating Diprotodon was a browser. Here, a mother watches helplessly as
its infant bogs down in mud on the edge of a drying lake.