Search NOVA Teachers

Back to Teachers Home

Bone Diggers

Program Overview


Thylacoleo NOVA travels to a remote Australian cave to reveal one of the most important paleontological discoveries ever made in the outback—the full skeleton of a giant marsupial lion called Thylacoleo carnifex.

The program:

  • reviews when Thylacoleo was first identified and how it was named, what has been learned about the species since then, and what questions still remain.

  • notes that the cave contains numerous skeletal remains, including the first complete skeleton of Thylacoleo and the remains of other species never seen before.

  • considers the question of when and why Thylacoleo became extinct.

  • outlines the difficulties with undertaking an expedition in the Nullarbor Plain, a remote and dangerous region.

  • looks at three-dimensional computer-generated recreations of parts of Thylacoleo's structure and considers

  • how the animal may have functioned in its habitat.

  • shows how scientists build a plastic replica of Thylacoleo's skull from CT scans.

  • creates an overall picture of what Thylacoleo may have looked like, how it may have hunted, and what its habitat may have been.

Taping Rights: Can be used up to one year after program is recorded off the air.

Teacher's Guide
Bone Diggers
WATCH A PREVIEW BUY THE VIDEO PROGRAM OVERVIEW VIEWING IDEAS RELATED NOVA RESOURCES