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Australia's Vanished Beasts

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Sthenurus

Monodactyl Kangaroo
Sthenurus (genus)

In 1873, working only from fragments of skulls and jaws, the British comparative anatomist Sir Richard Owen named this genus of kangaroo Sthenurus, meaning "strong-tailed beast." Owen was prescient, for a century later when full skeletons were uncovered, this creature was revealed to have a tail stronger and shorter relative to body size than that of all living kangaroos. Its anatomy and teeth suggest it was a large, leaf-eating ‘roo that walked almost exclusively on its monodactyl ("one-toed") hind feet. The only survivor of its lineage may be the banded hare-wallaby, which survives on only two small islands off the coast of Western Australia.


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