The Ice Age presented with many dangerous animals for humans to battle, and it has recently been discovered that the giant lizard predator was a problem for aboriginal Australians thousands of years ago.
- The lizard was believed to have been 20 feet long, belonging to the Megalania monitor lizard species
- The discovery was made after researchers dug up a tiny bone in Capricorn Caves, Rockhampton, Australia
- It was dated back to 50,000 years ago
- That coincides with the first migration of settlers in Australia
The team of researchers from the University of Queensland have recently dug up a tiny bit of bone that told of the existence of an enormous lizard that once roamed the land of what is Australia today. Apparently, all those dragons of myth and monsters in legends were true for the first inhabitants of the continent.
The Capricorn Caves, near Rockhampton, is the infamous site of millions of ancient animal bones that may host hidden truths about what sort of creatures lurked about the wilds many years ago. The newest discovery was a 0.39 inch long (or 1 centimeter) osteoderm, a tiny bone found beneath the lizard’s skin, that was dug up from a 6.5 feet (or 2 meter) deep excavation within the site.
Such a small discovery clued into the existence of a giant lizard, and the earliest record of one, possibly co-existing with ancient inhabitants of the land, though it’s more likely to have been feasting on rats or other rodents living inside the caves than hunting them down. Carbon dating processes conducted on the fossils have dated it back to the Ice Age, 50,000 years ago, which coincides with the arrival of the first aboriginal settlers.
According to the researchers, while they have not found the exact species it belonged, they have estimated that the creature might have been a Komodo dragon once roaming the lands of Australia, or part of the Megalania monitor lizard, an extinct species of large lizards. These massive creatures could have reached 20 feet in length and weighing around 1,000 pounds.
The Ice Age saw the Australian lands to be riddled with such giant animals, including 27 foot long crocodiles, that are unknown to this day how exactly they disappeared. It’s likely that both climate change and humans had a say in their extinction, though according to paleontologist Dr. Gilbert Price, it’s still debated if our ancestors had anything to do with it.
This small finding is the perfect example of what sort of rich discoveries might yet still be unearthed within the Capricorn Caves, with the team of researchers now hoping to unveil more about prehistoric animals around 11,000 to 12,000 years ago. This, yet unnamed, creature is just one of the many historical gems that could be dug up within the site.
As terms of comparison, today’s largest lizard in Australia is a monitor lizard called the parentie, that can grow as large as 6 feet, which is a far cry from its ancestors. More could be uncovered within the caves near Rockhamption, and it’s why all researchers and volunteers at the site have great responsibility within their hands.
Because who knows what other ancient animals made the site to be their tomb for the past thousands of years.
Image source: phenomena.nationalgeographic.com