Fossilised Tasmanian tiger footprints discovered on Kangaroo Island
FOSSILISED FOOTPRINTS belonging to the Tasmanian tiger (Thylacine) have been found on the Dudley Peninsula of Kangaroo Island, in addition to those of giant megafauna, revealing Kangaroo Island to be a hot spot for Australia’s ancient wildlife.
The fossilised footprints were found while scientists surveyed 6500 kilometres of Australia’s southern coastline from Western Australia, through to Victoria.
Aaron Camens, a lecturer in Paleontology at Flinders University, who was a researcher on the project told the ABC that there was no chance that the Tasmanian tiger was still roaming the island.
Top corner is a Tasmanian devil and print; middle left is an extinct short-faced kangaroo and its footprints. Afetr that, a sooty oystercatcher. The middle right is an eastern quoll. The bottom left is a diprotodon optatum. The middle is grey kangaroo and right are trackways showing large kangaroo and diprotodontid footprints. (Image Credit: Camens, Trusler and Watts)
“If we’ve got thylacines still living in South Australia, we need a viable population and not just a single one,” Aaron said.
“For the tens of thousands of purported sightings across Australia, we don’t have concrete evidence of a single one anywhere on the mainland.”
A diverse sample of over 300 trace fossils, some dating as far back as 200, 000 years ago is evidence of the various species that once called Kangaroo Island home.
“We found things like diprotodon, which was our largest marsupial herbivore that weighed about two tonnes, but also some of the more recently extinct animals in the area like thylacines and even Tassie devils,” Aaron told the ABC.
The paleontologists explained that the trace fossils found across Kangaroo Island will give researchers insights into the megafaunas behaviour.
“They can potentially be preserved, where the bones don’t preserve, so that adds extra information about the distribution of these animals.
“They can show us elements of the animals’ behaviour as well — how they interacted with each other and what kind of environments they moved through.”
Aaron told the ABC that these new discoveries were simply the “tip of the iceberg,” as the researcher hopes to find even more along the southern coastline.
Dudley Peninsula on Kangaroo Island. (Image Credit: Aaron Camens)