What we thought about...



25th July, 2005

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All the better to bite you with

Researchers have recently published details of the consummate crunching contraption. Forget lions and hyenas. They're amateurs by comparison with Thylacoleo carnifex, the killjoy's name for the marsupial lion, a 215 pound (100 kg) pouched predator that roamed the Australian continent for a few million years, according to experts, until about 30,000 years ago. From measuring skull dimensions and applying standard methods for determining bite force (how much pressure they could exert on a victim), a team of scientists concluded that Thylacoleo jaws “were much stronger than any other species for its size ”, living or extinct. The powerful jaws were suitably accompanied by huge incisor teeth — one grin from an approaching marsupial lion would be sufficient to make any diprotodon, an ox-sized creature similar to modern wombats, swoon with terror. Some experts consider Thylacoleo stood at the very apex of the predators' Richter scale, the most specialized mammalian carnivore of all time.

Studies on brain volume — an effective determinant of body size for marsupials — yielded a surprise. These ferocious beasts were actually double the size previously thought. According to an article on the National Geographic News site, Thylacoleo used the same hunting strategy as saber-toothed cats — they ambushed prey.

Balls of muscle and bone, built more like a bear than a cat, they pounced on passing innocents, their thick arm bones making them consummate wrestlers.

For a long time, scientists debated Thylacoleo's status as a carnivore, since most marsupials are plant-eaters, not bone-crunching, blood-thirsty meat eaters. However, what its tearing teeth had long suggested was confirmed in the 1980s by the discovery of a retractable claw. You don't use them for harvesting lilies. Or could you? Its bite force was found to be over double that of the spotted hyena, another clue as to its ferocity.

I don't know about you, but I get into a lather of excitement imagining life on this earth way before even my great-grandparents' time. I chuckle at the embarrassment felt by evolutionists when they try to explain how peaceful grazers somehow churned out a few savage killer mutants. God is so inventive, and desirous of showing us the hard evidence of His genius, He even stretched out creation week over many millions of years to provide sufficient time for entirely different suites of creatures from what we now know to have their day under the sun. Go on, let your curiosity be aroused. Find out more about life of the past. I guarantee you will be amazed. And if you keep God in the picture, your faith will rise in lockstep with your new-found knowledge.

For an artist's conception of Thylacoleo's deadly equipment, click here


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