Tasmania tiger relative more like a quoll

by Signe Cane

Tasmanian tiger’s ancient relative had more powerful jaws than its size would suggest

UNLIKE THE TASMANIAN tiger, whose relatively weak jaw strength meant it was better suited to hunting small animals, an ancient relative was capable of taking down prey larger than itself.

Australian researchers have discovered that, Dickson’s thylacine (Nimbacinus dicksoni), an ancient cousin of the Tasmanian tiger, had a powerful bite capable of subduing much larger prey than its own body weight.

"The biomechanical performance of Nimbacinus is more similar to that of dasyurids - such as quolls - than of thylacinids. That would suggest it hunted a large variety of prey,” says zoologist Marie Attard from the University of New England in Armidale.

"In contrast, the iconic Tasmanian tiger was considerably more specialised than large living dasyurids and Nimbacinus, and was likely more restricted in the range of prey it could hunt, making it more vulnerable to extinction,” says Marie…

(read more: Australian Geographic)

Illustration of Mid Miocene N. dicksoni. Image Credit: Anne Musser

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