The fossil of a giant wombat skull has been found in a Central Queensland cave. The fossil has been classified as Ramsayia magna, a species previously known from isolated teeth and jaw fragments.
Researchers estimate the wombat was the size of a “really large sheep” and weighed around 130kg. Modern day wombats can grow to 1.3m long and weigh up to 36kg.
Also, unlike a modern day wombat, which has a flat skull, R. magna had a domed skull with sinuses (air filled spaces) and a premaxillary spine – a vertical projection on it upper jaw that could have been support for a large fleshy nose. The domed skull provided a large surface area for the attachment of large, strong chewing muscles, indicating it could “process much tougher or poorer-quality foods than smaller species”. Scientists who studied the skull suggest such features indicate it was not a burrowing animal, unlike living wombats who dig large holes and live underground.
In an article in The Conversation researchers suggest: “A trend to gigantism was likely in response to the gradual drying out of the Australian continent that started about 20 million years ago and the need to process poorer quality food such as grasses – harder to ingest than leaves and fruits.”
Julien Louys of Griffith University commented: “In this paper, we show that all true giant wombats evolved large body sizes first, then individually became quite specialized to eat different types of grasses. We also dated this species as being about 80,000 years old. This is the first date for this species and is much earlier than human arrival in Australia, although we still don’t know exactly when or why this species became extinct.”
References: ABC News 13 December 2022; University of Queensland Contact Magazine, ScienceDaily 12 December 2022; PhysOrg 12 December 2022; Papers in Palaeontology 12 December 2022, doi: 10.1002/spp2.1475
Editorial Comment: This fossil is another reminder that Australia was once a land of giants, with many bigger versions of animals that still live here, as well as other large animals that are now extinct.
The idea that wombats evolved large body sizes in response to lack of leaves and fruit doesn’t make sense. Lack of food makes animals die out, not grow bigger. It certainly does not change information coded in its growth control genes.
The demise of ‘Aussie giants’ downunder is an ongoing debate between those who blame climate change and those who blame human hunting. Either story is not popular as the climate change proponents would have to admit climate change happens without human industry, and human hunting proponents would have to admit that hunting animals to extinction is not just the fault of modern western society.
In fact, it was probably a mix of both factors. There is plenty of evidence Australia was once a much wetter place with lush vegetation, and has dried out as part of the general drying after Noah’s Flood. Animals that already had the capacity to grow large arrived in Australia as part of the general migration after the Flood, but as the climate dried out, they lost out in the “struggle for life” as Darwin described it, but that did not make anything evolve. Added to that, after Noah’s Flood God gave mankind permission to eat animals for food, so when the first human beings arrived in Australia they hunted anything they could find, and large animals would have been the easiest to find.
Rather than this fossil being evidence for evolution, it is a stark reminder the world is going downhill, not evolving upwards, just as Biblical history tells us.
Creation Research News 20 December 2022
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