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Extinct ‘Micro Lion’: Named For Sir David Attenborough

Micro Lion
Extinct "Micro-lion" is being named for Sir David Attenborough. (Image Courtesy: Google)

Finding different evidences of the extinct species and finding different information of the same is one of the common phenomenon of the researchers.

This helps in keeping records of many of the species which has already became extinct and knowing different information and details about them.

Team of researchers from the University of New South Wales (UNSW) has made a discovery at the Riversleigh World Heritage Area during the term of July.

They have found the teeth of animal over the small block of limestone. It is being understood that it is about 18 million years old.

Extinct micro-lions (Image Courtesy: Google)
Extinct micro-lions (Image Courtesy: Google)

Discovery of newer species of Micro Lion:

Discovery of the newer species was named Microleo attenboroughi for the reason of its smaller size. It also included due to honouring the famous broadcaster and naturalist Sir David Attenborough.

It was done as a means of the recognition of his support for the Riversleigh World Heritage Area, which is named as one of the four most important fossil areas in the world.

This newer species discovered are much smaller than its other members of the extinct marsupial lion family. It included the most famous but yet younger relative the lion sized Thylacoleo carnifex.

This newer species is described in the Journal Palaeontologia Electronica which is based on the fossil specimen of the part of the skull and teeth.

Dentition of the species included an elongate, lethally sharp, knife-like premolar in front of the basined molars. It is being one of the specialized features which are common for all of the members of this particular extraordinary family of marsupial carnivores, the Thylacoleonidae.

Sir David Attenborough poses with a lion cub. (Image Courtesy: Google)
Sir David Attenborough poses with a lion cub. (Image Courtesy: Google)

Sir David Attenborough: Contribution

Sir David Attenborough has done outstanding work as writer, presenter, narrator or producer in many of the television series and even individual programmes.

While considering his career which has spanned for seven decades, Attenborough’s name has quite became synonymous with the natural history programmes by BBC Natural History Unit.

His some of the works includes Coleacanth, Song Hunter, The pattern of Animals, Zoo Quest, The people of paradise, The life game and many more.

This 18 million year old lion is being called “microleo attenboroughi” and is at least 15th species being named after the popular television naturalist and knight of his realm.

Even an Amazonian butterfly, ghost shrimp, prehistoric locust and a long-beaked echicna are some of the few creatures which are a honor sharing Sir David’s name.

This animal is being most impressive of all ancient creatures and was being related to the notorious “pouch lion”. It is a creature which is purported to be having the strongest bite of any creature being alive or extinct.

Highlighting the Most Important Fossil Locality:

Dr Anna Gillespie who is also from the UNSW has said that the molars and pre-molars has provided quite enough information for determining many of the things regarding animal. Adding to the same she says, “Teeth can tell you an awful lot about an animal.” Marsupial has been named Microleo attenboroughi for honouring Sir David Attenborough.

Dr Gillespie adding to the same says, “He’s been up to Riversleigh and he’s one of the people who’s been at the forefront of highlighting what an important fossil locality Riversleigh is on the world stage. I think in the top four fossil localities on the planet.”

Dr Gillespie even said that it is one of the incredible animal which has not being discovered earlier. Dr Gillespie said that the landscape from around the Riversleigh World Heritage Area would be quite dramatically different when Microleo attenboroughi has walked the Earth.

Diversity of Fossilised Record:

Adding to the same she says, “At that particular time in Australia, the climate was a lot wetter and a lot warmer. We think because of the diversity of the fossils that have been recovered, it was probably a closed forest environment, very much like a rainforest. And the diversity of the animals we’ve recovered, it was a very rich environment, there were lots and lots of different sorts of animals.”

UNSW Professor Mike Archor adding to the same says, “Despite its relatively small size compared with the Pleistocene Thylacoleo carnifex – the last surviving megafaunal marsupial lion – the new species was one of the larger flesheaters existing in its ancient community of rainforest creatures at Riversleigh.”

Diversity of the same is quite live this time at the Riversleigh and it is unmatched in the fossil record from anywhere else on the continent.

Author’s Views:

Dr Gillespie adding to the same says, “Microleo shared these northern Miocene rain forests with two larger species of marsupial lion, one cat-sized and the other dog-sized.

Although it is possible they competed with one other, the size differences probably means they each specialised on a different size range of prey.

It’s likely that Microleo scampered amongst the treetops, gobbling insects as well as small vertebrates such as lizards and birds while simultaneously trying to avoid becoming a prey item for its larger relatives.”

Co-author of the study UNSW professor Suzanne Hand says, “The early Miocene of northern Australia, as documented by the thousands of fossils from Riversleigh, was a time of mild, very wet climatic conditions with mammal diversity more like that seen in Borneo than anywhere in Australia today.”

Professor Archer says, “Tantalising questions about the rest of its skull and skeleton which could further clarify aspects of its lifestyle – such as whether it had an enlarged ‘killing’ thumb claw like its Pleistocene relative – must await discovery of more complete specimens.”

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