Wednesday, July 12, 2006; Posted: 11:14 a.m. EDT (15:14 GMT)
SYDNEY, Australia (Reuters) -- Forget cute, cuddly marsupials. A team of Australian palaeontologists say they have found the fossilized remains of a fanged killer kangaroo and what they describe as a "demon duck of doom".
A University of New South Wales team said the fearsome fossils were among 20 previously unknown species uncovered at a site in northwest Queensland state.
Professor Michael Archer said on Wednesday the remains of a meat-eating kangaroo with wolf-like fangs were found as well as a galloping kangaroo with long forearms that could not hop like a modern kangaroo.
"Because they didn't hop, these were galloping kangaroos, with big, powerful forelimbs. Some of them had long canines (fangs) like wolves," Archer told Australian Broadcasting Corp radio.
Vertebrate paleontologist Sue Hand said modern kangaroos look almost nothing like their ferocious forebears, which lived between 10 million and 20 million years ago.
The species found at the dig had "well muscled-in teeth, not for grazing. These things had slicing crests that could have crunched through bone and sliced off flesh", Hand said.
The team also found prehistoric lungfish and large duck-like birds.
"Very big birds ... more like ducks, earned the name 'demon duck of doom', some at least may have been carnivorous as well," Hand told ABC radio.
Archer said the team was studying the fossils to better understand how they were affected by changing climates in the Miocene epoch between 5 million and 24 million years ago.
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