Virtual Reconstruction and Prey Size Preference in the Mid Cenozoic Thylacinid, Nimbacinus dicksoni (Thylacinidae, Marsupialia
ECOSYSTEM CHANGE IN AUSTRALIA
The marsupial carnivores of Australian and New Guinean, the thylacinidae, are now extinct.
We are interested in how the ecosystem changed with the loss of the large marsupial carnivores.
We look at changes in predator-prey relationships and examine both contemporary and historic populations reconstructing the diet of the marsupial carnivore guild back over the last 200 years using stable isotopes.
They were a family of at least 11 different species. The last thylacine species, the Tasmanian tiger, disappeared in 1920s and we are interested in how the loss of these large marsupial carnivores influenced the Australian ecosystem.
In the past we have predicted mechanical performance of these carnivores using digital reconstruction of their skulls (applying 3-D Finite Element Analysis).
Skull mechanics and implications for feeding behaviour in a large marsupial carnivore guild: The thylacine, Tasmanian devil and spotted-tailed quoll
The fossil thylacine species, Nimbacinus dicksoni, was a small predator ~5 kg in body mass, but was likely to have occupied a broad ecological niche (similar to that of the spotted-tailed quoll, Dasyurus maculatus today), and was likely a capable hunter of large vertebrate prey, perhaps exceeding its own body mass.
Drawings by Alicia Guerrero