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Learning English - Words in the News
24 July, 2006 - Published 15:31 GMT
'Killer kangaroo' evidence found
The "killer kangaroos" were not like the creatures we know today
The "killer kangaroos" were not like the creatures we know today

Scientists in Australia have found fossils of flesh-eating kangaroos and ancient tree-climbing crocodiles. The remains of at least twenty previously unknown species were found in the northern Australian state of Queensland. This report from Phil Mercer:

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Palaeontologists have discovered some of nature's more unusual treasures at the famous Riversleigh fossil fields in north west Queensland. They found evidence of a saber-toothed kangaroo and a giant bird they've nicknamed the demon duck of doom. It would have been more than three metres tall and weighed around four-hundred kilograms.

But it's those killer kangaroos that have attracted the most attention. Professor Mike Archer who led the team of fossil hunters says they've made some extraordinary discoveries.

ARCHER: One of the ones that sort of was most amazing to us was a range of kangaroos. There are weird flesh-eating kangaroos. None of the kangaroos, and there are about thirty-five different kinds of extinct kangaroos in these deposits, none of them would have looked like anything we would have recognised today because they didn't hop, these were galloping kangaroos with big powerful forelimbs, some of them had long canines like wolves.

Scientists also found the remains of marsupial lions and tree-climbing crocodiles. Tucked away in a remote corner of the Australian outback the Riversleigh fossil site is a World Heritage area. Experts have said the discoveries that have been made there have provided great insights into the evolution of Australia's unique fauna.

Phil Mercer, BBC, Sydney

Listen to the words

saber-toothed kangaroo
a kanagroo that had very sharp teeth that were used for attacking and killing animals

called - (a nickname is a name given to a person or thing which isn't that person or thing's real name)

fossil hunters
people that look for evidence of plants and animals that lived many thousands of years ago

areas of land that contain examples (e.g. bones) of animals or plants that died millions of years ago

galloping kangaroos
kangeroos that run very fast

the front arms or legs of an animal

the two top and bottom long sharp pointed teeth

the remains
parts of an animal or plant that can still be seen many years after they have died

Tucked away

areas of land within Australia that are far away from any major towns or cities

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