Australia's Vanished Beasts

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Quinkana fortirostrum

The Quinkan
Quinkana fortirostrum
In 1970, deep inside Australia's Tea Tree Cave, a caver discovered a skull lying upside down on the cavern floor. It turned out to be from a large, previously unknown crocodilian. The reptile resembled an extinct type of croc called a ziphodont, whose snouts were both broad and deep. (The snouts of most of today's crocs are broader than they are deep.) The caver's find was subsequently named after the "quinkans," mythical humanoids of the Dreamtime, the creation time in Aboriginal mythology. Growing to perhaps 10 feet in length, the land-based quinkan was one of the largest carnivores of the Australian Pleistocene and probably was capable, like the giant goanna, of taking down the largest marsupials, including diprotodontids.

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