When Giant Wombats Ruled the Earth...

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!

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!

i-b0e4b2040283b45cb0544d246973d8ee-Wombat II.jpg
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.

More like this

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

sir!!!! comport yourself!

c.v. snicker

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

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.

what, no 'eats, roots, shoots, and leaves' joke?

a la video c pas un wombat

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

By Steve Lind (not verified) on 25 Feb 2009 #permalink

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

By scott webster (not verified) on 15 Jun 2010 #permalink

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.

This settles it -- I'm going to be Wombat Woman for Halloween next year.

By Alexandra (not verified) on 29 Nov 2010 #permalink

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

By kevin elliss (not verified) on 20 Dec 2010 #permalink