Ancient platypus was big and bitey


PLATYPUSES may be known for their duck bills and timidity, but an extinct relative was bigger than a bulldog and had teeth strong enough to crush turtles.

NSW biologists have identified a previously unknown species of platypus – the fifth and biggest so far – from a tooth found at a renowned fossil site in Queensland’s gulf country.

“It would have been one of the biggest animals by far in those ancient waterways,” said University of NSW palaeontologist Mike Archer.

“Only crocodiles would have been bigger. Everything else would have thought twice about going for a swim with this platypus-zilla.”

Before the latest find, three extinct platypus species were known from fossils discovered in Central Australia’s Simpson Desert, Argentina’s far south and the Riversleigh World Heritage Area in Queensland. The new species is thought to have lived between five and 15 million years ago, reaching a metre in length.

Written By: John Ross
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  1. A remnant of Gondwana-land like Tasmania’s ancient forests…its hard to imagine outback Australia being so lush… I’ve been to the Pilbarra desert and its a really huge expanse of desert….I seen the milky way with such clarity and comet McNaught…awesome experience to just be out in the desert at night – so far from the throng of humanity – so quiet….truly humbling….

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