Virtual Reconstruction and Prey Size Preference in the Mid Cenozoic Thylacinid Nimbacinus dicksoni Thylacinidae 

Marsupialia

Skull mechanics and implications for feeding behaviour in a large marsupial carnivore guild - The thylacine Tasmanian devil and spotted-tailed quoll

ECOSYSTEM CHANGE LOSS OF THE LARGE MARSUPIAL CARNIVORES

– changes in predator-prey relationships

The marsupial carnivores of Australian and New Guinean, the thylacinidae, are now extinct. 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.

 

We examine both contemporary and historic populations reconstructing the diet of the marsupial carnivore guild using stable isotopes and predicting mechanical performance of these carnivores using digital reconstruction of their skulls (applying 3-D Finite Element Analysis).

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.

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FORAGING ECOLOGY

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FORAGING ECOLOGY

Drawings by Alicia Guerrero