The dietary niche of the extinct Australian marsupial lion: Thylacoleo carnifex Owen

Authors


Abstract

Nedin, C. 1991 01 15: The dietary niche of the extinct Australian marsupial lion: Thylacoleo carnifex Owen. Lethaia, Vol. 24. pp. 115–118. Oslo. ISSN 0024–1164.

Ever since the first systematic descriptions of the extinct Australian marsupial lion. Thylacoleo carnifex (Marsupialia: Thylacoleonidae). by the famous palaeontologist Sir Richard Owen in 1859. controversy has surrounded its dietary niche. This controversy, fuelled by the unique dentition of T. carnifex. with its huge, trenchant, third premolars prompted the suggestion of a variety of dietary niches. In order to ascertain the actual niche, the bones of various adult marsupials. including Thylacoleo. Thylacinus (the marsupial tiger), Marcropus and Sthenurus. were analysed for strontium and zinc. The results show a close correlation between Thylacoleo, Thylacinus and the insectivorous bandicoot Perameles. indicating a carnivorous diet for Thylacoleo, whilst confirming the leaf-eating niche of Sthenurus. Also, the results confirm the usefulness of strontium bone analysis in ascertaining palaeodietary information whilst showing the value of a divariant over a monovariant analysis. Thylacoleo, palaeodiet. strontium, zinc.

Ancillary