Image a landscape full of mass migrating herbivores, tracking their preferred food source year after year as the seasons change. They are stalked by a diverse range of mammalian carnivores, some of the largest land predators that exist on the planet. Hungry crocodiles watch on, lurking in the waterways waiting for their chance to score an easy feed when the big mammals come down to drink. If this scene sounds something akin to East Africa’s Serengeti, then you’d be right. Except this depiction is not based on Africa at all, but eastern Australia and it dates to the last series of Ice Ages.

The Darling Downs of southeast Queensland is one of Australia’s premier fossil regions for Quaternary megafauna. New fossil records, coupled with advances in dating and geochemistry-based palaeobiological reconstruction, have revealed new insights into the area’s incredibly diverse ecosystems of this Ice Age period. Among the most recent discoveries include the first evidence for repetitive seasonal migration in the Diprotodon, a 3,000 kg gigantic wombat-like marsupial. This style of migration has not previously been reported for any species of marsupial, living or extinct; remarkable considering the marsupials and their broader relatives, the metatherians, have existed on Earth for more than 160 million years.


Dr Gilbert Price is vertebrate paleontologist based in the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences. His research interests are centred around revealing the timing and causes of extinction of Australia’s Quaternary megafauna.


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