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News Stories

The reign of the terror birds

Meet the scariest birds you can imagine, scaled up to nightmarish proportions.  
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Dinosaur bones scanned to discover more about weighty issue

It was a scan 100 million years in the making. The bones of one of Queensland’s largest dinosaurs, Matilda, have undergone a CT scan to discover how her limbs coped with 20 tonnes of flesh on top.  
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Sauropod in the Spotlight

An Australian dinosaur believed to be almost 100 million years old has become the oldest patient ever to visit the I-MED Radiology clinic in Mount Isa. Mount Isa Hospital and I-Med Radiology joined with the Australian Age of Dinosaurs Museum at Winton to make history on March 7 when CT scans were performed on Matilda – believed to be 95 million years old.
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Extinct Australian predator was fierce but no Tasmanian devil

A fox-sized marsupial predator that roamed Australia from about 23 to 12 million years ago had plenty of bite to go along with its bark. But while it was certainly fierce, it was no Tasmanian devil, Australia’s famously ferocious bantamweight brute.
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Did Neanderthals speak?

An analysis of a Neanderthal’s fossilised hyoid bone – a horseshoe-shaped structure in the neck – suggests the species had the ability to speak. This has been suspected since the 1989 discovery of a Neanderthal hyoid that looks just like a modern human’s. But now computer modelling of how it works has shown this bone was also used in a very similar way.
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Sabretooth killing power depended on thick neck

Scientists have analysed how an extinct sabretooth animal with huge canines dispatched its prey, finding that strong neck muscles were vital for securing a kill. The marsupial, which terrorised South America 3.5 million years ago, had the biggest canine teeth for its size. Experts say the big beast possessed extreme adaptations to the “sabretooth lifestyle”.
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Climate change killed the megafauna!

Throughout the Ice Age that characterised our planet for much of the last two million years or so mainland Australia, Tasmania and New Guinea formed a single landmass — Sahul. It was a strange and often hostile place — and it was dominated by giants.
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Mystery human fossils put spotlight on China

Fossils from two caves in southwest China have revealed a previously unknown Stone Age people and give a rare glimpse of a recent stage of human evolution with startling implications for the early people of Asia.
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Big bears bite

Bears are from a relatively young family that diverged from dog or dog-like caniform ancestors around 23–24 million years ago. Despite this recent origin, living ursids span a very wide range of feeding ecologies, from specialised herbivory to hypercarnivory. Scientists take a closer look at the special feeding adaptations of the giant panda, brown bear, black bear, polar bear, Asian bear and extinct tribe Ursavini.
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Ancient bear bite

The largest bear that ever lived also had the strongest bite of any land mammal, say scientists. Agriotherium africanum was a giant short-faced bear that became extinct five million years ago. Reconstructions of the carnivore’s skull revealed that it was well adapted to resist the forces involved in eating large prey.
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Tasmanian tiger’s jaws too weak to kill sheep

At the end of the 19th Century, the thylacine had a price on its head. The strange marsupial carnivore, which became extinct in 1936, was thought to kill sheep. Sheep farming was the backbone of the Australian economy, and the government duly set up a bounty scheme to exterminate the species. But a new study has now revealed that the marsupial carnivore’s jaws were too weak to snare a struggling adult sheep.
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Great white shark’s jaw weakness revealed

At up to 3m in length, adolescent great white sharks certainly look like formidable predators. But until they reach maturity, great white sharks have surprisingly weak jaws, according to researchers.
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Marsupial carnivores as diverse as other mammals once

They are an extraordinary and now rare group of animals but Earth has had some formidable marsupial carnivores. These pouched killers have included lions, wolves, and even sabretooths. These animals’ past success though is illustrated by a new skull study that reveals the creatures to have been just as diverse as their cousins, the placental mammals.
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“Terror Bird” was prize fighter

The giant, flightless beasts that roamed South America for more than 50 million years following the demise of the dinosaurs were fearsome predators. New research shows the birds’ huge beaks could deliver swift and powerful pecks, very probably killing their victims in one blow before ripping the flesh from their bodies.
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Komodo Dragon’s bite is “weaker than a house cat’s”

The world’s largest living lizard, the fearsome Komodo dragon, has a bite weaker than a house cat’s, researchers say. Though known for killing prey much larger than itself, the Komodo relies on its razor-sharp teeth, strong neck muscles, and “space frame” skull to subdue its prey, according to a new study.
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