Australia was dominated by giant reptiles up to 100,000 years ago

According to a new study conducted by Gilbert Price at the University of Queensland, up to 20,000 years ago, Australia was inhabited by 20m long Komodo dragons, crocodiles, giant snakes and other huge reptiles. The researcher analyzed data from 15 years of scientific discovery and research and found a much higher level of reptile biodiversity in Australia than expected.

The researchers concluded that the continent was literally dominated by predatory reptiles, a situation that continued for the past 25 million years, at least until 100,000 years ago, when mammals gradually began to dominate. The disappearance of these large reptiles, from which only crocodiles were largely rescued, occurred 40,000 years ago, along with the disappearance of other Australian megafauna species, including several mammals.

In the last millennia, human and alien species have made things worse and worse. Take, for example, the dingo, an effective and rapid predator that caused the extinction of several Australian megafauna species.

Yet over the past 200 years, the emergence of a European cat or red fox has caused the “final blow,” possibly causing the greatest damage to Australia’s mega-fauna, particularly the small marsupials, which are not ready to withstand such rapid and clever predators.

For example, only cats and foxes are considered responsible for the extinction of at least 30 species and subspecies of typical Australian mammals over the past two centuries, accounting for 50% of the total mammalian extinction worldwide, as indicated in the same prize.


Sources & Recommended Reading:

https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2019/10/giant-reptiles-once-ruled-australia-their-loss-sparked-ecological-disaster

Melissa Ward

I am a mature-aged graduate student at Colorado State University, having previously been a student under Prof. Daniel Reed and having a deep understanding of the scientific method and scientific reporting. After graduation, I worked briefly for Daily Times-Call (timescall.com) as an assistant and am not a part-time contributor to Biology Reporter.

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Melissa Ward