Australia is unquestionably known as the land of strange things. Due to its separation from the rest of the living world, it naturally has creatures not seen anywhere else. It’s perhaps the greatest deterrent to just about every world traveler, although the exotic wildlife assuredly brings people in also. Add the micro-lion, or the Microleo attenboroughi as it’s been aptly named, to the list of inane animals in Australia. Unfortunately, this animal has gone instinct, so don’t plan on seeking it out or fleeing from it. The fossil of the micro-lion was found in the Riversleigh World Heritage Area of Queensland, Australia. The scientific name comes from David Attenborough, noted naturalist, television personality and zoologist, for his work in the field with animals, and even specifically in the Riversleigh World Heritage area.
The animal weighed around 600 grams when it existed, making it one of the smaller beings in the feline family. Having gone extinct more than 18 million years ago, it aids in understanding how Australian wildlife developed. The most accurate way to imagine the life of Microleo attenboroughi is during the time when Australia was a jungle, damp and hot, similar to a rain forest. The diet of the minuscule feline consisted, most likely, of small bugs, lizards and birds. This small mammal was also most likely hunted by its fellow smaller lions. The other two discovered species in Australia that existed at the same time were the size of a dog and a cat, which meant that this newly unearthed species was prey for its larger cousins.
While this is an important discovery, Mike Archer, one of the team members that unearthed the forgotten feline, “must await discovery of more complete specimens,” in order to fully flesh out its life.
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