NOVA PBS

Australia's Vanished Beasts

back | 5 of 10 | next

Propleopus oscillans

Giant Rat Kangaroo
Propleopus oscillans
One of the rarest and least understood of the extinct Pleistocene marsupials is the giant rat kangaroo, which is known from fewer than 20 individual specimens, most of them represented by jaw bones. Its jaw and teeth are similar to those of the living musky rat kangaroo, but, befitting its megafaunal status, it was much larger, weighing up to 150 pounds compared to the roughly 18 pounds of its surviving cousin. Based on its dentition, experts have suggested that it may have been both a meat- and plant-eater. Like the baboon, for instance, it may have been an opportunistic feeder that dined on meat, eggs, insects, and vegetation. Here, a giant rat kangaroo devours emu eggs.


Bone Diggers homepage | NOVA homepage

NOVAPBS