HOPPING HUGE

The first humans in Australia may have encountered eight-foot-tall kangaroos

A team of paleontologists may have discovered a previously unknown species of kangaroo at a mining site in north Queensland, Australia. It dates back more than 30,000 years. And it’s huge.

“Based on the size of its shin bones it was probably two and a half metres [8.2 feet] tall just in a resting position,” Queensland Museum paleontologist Scott Hocknull told ABC. Further analysis is required to confirm whether it is a new species—a long and painstaking process. For now, though, some at the museum are confident enough to declare it the tallest kangaroo ever discovered.

The site at South Walker Creek coal mine, first discovered by the indigenous Barada Barna people in 2008, has proved to be a paleontological paradise. In particular, Hocknull and his team have unearthed the remains of megafauna (animals weighing at least 100 pounds) that roamed the area 30,000-50,000 years ago, around when the first humans stepped on the continent.

The bounty of such well-preserved fossils, Hocknull told ABC, may be thanks to the crocodiles that preyed on these huge animals. Partially eaten carcasses of these big beasts ended up in the moss and clay of the riverbed, a perfect environment for fossilization. Other giant animals uncovered in the area include a hippopotamus-sized wombat and lizards that grew up to 20 feet long.

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