Discovering the Lion
As one of the smallest lions to ever be discovered, this animal was roughly the size of a domestic cat. The lekaneleo roskellaye species has razor-sharp teeth that were capable of slicing through bones – most likely its prey. Anna Gillespie, Michael Archer, and Suzanne Hand are researchers at the University of New South Wales and the ones that discovered the remains. They were working in the Riversleigh World Heritage Area in Queensland, Australia, a site that is commonly known for its fossils, when they made their discovery.
The Riversleigh World Heritage Area is one of the most famous fossil locations in Australia. It has many well-preserved specimens that date back from 23 million to 15 million years ago.
A Close Analysis of the Fossil
Further analysis of the lion fossil indicated that it was distinguishable due to its bone-slicing sharp premolar teeth and small size set. It set the fossil apart from the other species of marsupial lion.
According to Dr. Archer, the lekaneleo roskellaye would have been feared by many other animals in the ancient Riversleigh rainforest despite its small size.
Marsupial lions are not closely related to modern lions that are found roaming in Africa or the endangered Asiatic lion species found in India. They evolved in isolation apart from the rest of the world. The Marsupial species, or more so, the fossils from that species, are seen in museums, like the thylacoleo carnifex, which was that largest meat-eating mammal to ever exist in Australia. It supposedly weighed over 160kg.