Unearthing the secrets of Queensland's megafauna

An artist’s impression of Diprotodon.
© QM, Paul Lennon

Researchers from the Queensland Museum are undertaking groundbreaking research to reveal the secrets of megafauna fossils recently unearthed in central Queensland.

These fossils, discovered by the Barada Barna people during a cultural heritage clearance at BHP Billiton Mitsui Coal’s (BMC) South Walker Creek mine site, are some of the largest ever to have been discovered, and include the remains of Diprotodon, the world’s largest marsupial, and Megalania, the world’s largest lizard.

Queensland Museum palaeontologist Dr Scott Hocknull and his team have been working at the site annually since 2009, with the support of BMC, and are gaining some incredible insight into how these creatures lived, and why they became extinct.

The scientific community is still unsure whether the extinction of megafauna may have been caused by humans, climate change, or a combination of both, and it is hoped the South Walker Creek site may provide new insight into this mystery.

Dr Hocknull’s research will ultimately deepen our understanding of how Australia’s animals and plants have responded to global climate change, and could potentially overturn long-held scientific thought about the extinction of Australia's megafauna.

As part of the partnership with BMC, Queensland Museum will share these findings with Queensland communities by developing loans kits that can be borrowed by schools and other groups across the state.

The research will also feed into a new dinosaur and megafauna exhibition to be established at the Queensland Museum to chronicle Queensland’s rich prehistoric past.

This partnership is also supporting the Queensland Museum’s work in the Mackay and Isaac regions, helping institutions document, preserve, interpret their collections and make them accessible to communities.

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