Anatomy of the Marsupial Lion

  • By Rima Chaddha
  • Posted 06.19.07
  • NOVA

One of Australia's most fantastic beasts, the extinct Thylacoleo carnifex, or "meat-cutting marsupial lion," possessed a host of physical traits unseen in any single creature alive today. These included features especially suited to a carnivorous hunter, including retractable, catlike claws, a kangaroo's tail, and jaw muscles that delivered a bite stronger than a lion's. Altogether, says paleontologist Rod Wells, Thylacoleo resembled something designed by committee. In this interactive, learn more about the marsupial lion's singular anatomy and what it reveals of the animal's predatory life in Pleistocene Australia.

Launch Interactive Printable Version

Explore what the skeleton of the bizarre Ice Age predator Thylacoleo reveals about how it lived.



Courtesy Roderick T. Wells
(kangaroo)© Michelle Allen/ Pty Ltd
(lion)© Nico Smit, Nico Smit Photography
(opossum hind paw)
© Dennis Deck
(cat claw)
© Paul Osmond/
(Tasmanian devil)© Leo Stanners/Limelight Design
(tiger)© Dirk Freder

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