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The Challenge of Monitoring Biodiversity

Tue, 04 Aug 2015 14:12:04 +0000

a guest blog by Charlie Outhwaite, written for the 2015 Write About Research Competition. Biological diversity, or biodiversity, is a complex term encompassing the variety of life found on Earth. It incorporates not only differences between species but within species themselves and of the environments and ecosystems where they are found. We as humans benefit […]

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Dr Anjali Goswami lead author in Royal Society Proceedings B

24 November 2010


Marsupial carnivores, including bizarre pouched lions, wolves, and sabretooths, were once as diverse in their appearance as their placental counterparts are today, according to new research.

Millions of years ago large marsupial carnivores dominated both Australasia and South America.  Today, the Tasmanian Devil is the largest marsupial carnivore left, and is on the brink of extinction. Why these large pouched predators have dwindled is a mystery, but one explanation is that they couldn’t compete with their placental counterparts, like ordinary lions and tigers, because of the constraints of marsupial development. 

Marsupial Sabretooth

Now, by looking at the skulls of living and  fossil marsupial and placental carnivores from around the world, scientists have shown that the diversity between species in marsupial carnivores was in fact slightly greater than it is in more familiar placental carnivores, even though there were fewer species overall.  The research is published today in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

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