Zooillogix

Scientists have solved a timeless question that has divided Andrew and myself, more than once leading us to come to blows…And as it turns out, only one species of giant wombat roamed the planet between 2 million and 10,000 years ago, despite evidence that they varied significantly in size. Boo hoo, Andrew. You lose again!

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Majestic, weren’t they?

A study by Gilbert Price in the last issue of the Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society , focused on tooth specimens of the giant wombats (the largest ever marsupials to reign on Earth). After comparing over…

…a thousand teeth, Price realized that they all displayed similar markings and thus appear to come from the same species.

Scientists previously studying giant prehistoric wombats had assumed that there existed anywhere from two even up to eighteen or more different species of wombat. This assumption was made because of the varying sizes of the adult fossils found. Specimens ranged from just a few feet long to up to nine feet long and almost six feet tall!

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A large wombat in Australia. In this picture, it appears to be holding a stuffed animal.

Price and his team, however, are attributing the size range to sexual dimorphism (differences in size based on sex). They are speculating that the smaller prehistoric wombats were most likely female and the larger, male.

Says Price in his study, “As a single morphospecies, D. optatum had a near-continental geographical distribution, similar to that of extant megaherbivores, possibly indicating its niche as a habitat generalist.” Or in layman’s terms, suck it Andrew.

Comments

  1. #1 Jives
    June 24, 2008
  2. #2 chet snicker
    June 24, 2008

    A large wombat in Australia. In this picture, it appears to be holding a stuffed animal.

    sir!!!! comport yourself!

    sincerely,
    c.v. snicker

  3. #3 ym
    June 24, 2008

    What a great “stuffed animal.” Should fill with beans like a bean bag.

  4. #4 John S. Wilkins
    June 24, 2008

    Unlike most, I have personally been attacked by a wombat. Sure, they are cute and cuddly, until they get to be older males defending their territory, at which point they become VW Beetles with teeth and claws.

    A 3m long wombat doesn’t bear thinking about.

    But I would hold off demanding my bet be paid out, if I were you. Morphological paleospecies are at best only a rough surrogate for actual species, and morphoclines are common between good species.

  5. #5 Leesy
    June 25, 2008

    One of the best picture books of all time: Diary of a Wombat!

  6. #6 Leesy
    June 26, 2008

    Oh, and in case you were wondering, yes, you can knit your own wombat (look in the top left hand Autralian-themed scene).

  7. #7 djlactin
    June 29, 2008

    what, no ‘eats, roots, shoots, and leaves’ joke?

  8. #8 mael
    January 16, 2009

    a la video c pas un wombat

  9. #9 Steve Lind
    February 25, 2009

    Hello, I was wondering if I might have permission to use the photo of the woman holding a full-grown wombat as an avatar?

  10. #10 Steve Lind
    February 27, 2009

    I wrote originally requesting permission to use the photo of a woman holding a wombat as an avatar. I replied to the e-mail you sent back but have received no response; possibly message did not transmit? The site on which I found the photo is: http://scienceblogs.com/zooillogix/2008/06/when_giant_wombats_ruled_the_e.php

    thank you for considering my request!

  11. #11 scott webster
    June 15, 2010

    hello there…i use to watch the Crocodile Hunter with SteVe and Terri Erwin and from time to time they would show them walking a Wombat around on a halter and a leash as they walked around there zoo…can these animals be raised and breeded as pets

  12. #12 Katy
    October 29, 2010

    The photo of the lady holding the wombat is the sigle funniest thing I have ever seen. It brings tear of joy to my eyes every time I see it. If anyone knows who the lady is, please could you send me her email address so I can tell her in person how happy this picture makes me? Thank you.

  13. #13 Alexandra
    November 29, 2010

    This settles it — I’m going to be Wombat Woman for Halloween next year.

  14. #14 kevin elliss
    December 20, 2010

    when i was a kid i went to a nsw town that hat the the bigest wombat in histery they also had caves ane other items that showed these large wombats kevin

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