The analysis of Flinders University reveals the true nature of South America's largest predator, Thylacoleo carnifex, after the only complete skeleton was discovered in the caves under Nullarbor.
In a publication published today in the magazine PLOS ONE, the researchers describe a skilled climber with a heavy, muscular tail that helps him balance and free the forelegs for attack and consumption of prey.
Leading author, Professor Rhode Wells, says that the blast in Hershey Narocorte's career in 2007 reveals a cave containing almost complete remains of several individuals, and then the great discovery of a full skeleton in a cave below the Nullarbor Plain.
"The whole skeleton survey reveals what a truly unique animal tile is," he said.
"It looked like a cross between the opium and the uterus, climbed a little like a koala, and moved with the hard back of a Tasmanian devil while filling a niche other than any other animal on the ground.
In fact, the anatomy of the animal is closest to that of the Tasmanian devil, Australia's largest animal predator today.
For millions of years, Thylacoleo carnifex is the largest and most cruel mammal predator in Australia, using its climbing abilities to shed prey until the megafauna disappears about 40,000 years ago.
The disappearance of the Australian predator's greatest predator has intrigued paleontologists who have tried to determine the lifestyle of the lion since they were first described by incomplete skull and jaw fragments in 1859.
"160 years have passed since the discovery of cranial and jawed fragments in Lake Colungulac in Victoria to complete the skeletal mosaic of this mysterious and controversial throat and to reveal how nature is structuring a super predator of ancient herbivores," said Professor Wells.
Researchers have not determined whether the red lion is a co-operative hunter or just an opportunist, but the fact that many adults and young people are found in caves suggests that they work in social groups.
They believe that the red lion is also a predator or a predator of a predator.
Paleontology co-author and lecturer Aaron Kamen compares the tail with that of other Australian viruses.
"Our queue analysis suggests that it was pulled into the air and that it is used in a way that differs from all living bags," he said.
The study "The first glance at Thylacoleo's entire skeleton, the missing Australian Marsal Lion, is freely available at https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0208020