|The Tasmanian fossil dicynodont tusk|
Yet there was a geographical problem with this: the only known Australian specimen was a single fragment of bone discovered 30 years ago in Queensland. If the dicynodonts were a global group, then why was there an extreme lack of evidence for their existence in Australia? The discovery of a single tusk from the island of Tasmania, now gives the dicynodont a geographical range of over 2000 kilometres down the east cost of the southern continent.
|An artist's impression of the Tasmanian dicynodont, |
a cow sized animal which roamed the Triassic deserts
The fossils were taken to the University of Tasmania for analysis. Where sedimentologist, Professor Stuart Ball, found that they predated the first dinosaurs by around 20 million years, making them a late Triassic species. It seems that the dicynodonts survived in Australia far longer than anywhere else on Earth, even out-running the Permian extinction itself. Ball believes that floods may have washed the remains of the dicynodonts into billabongs - large ponds of water - which would account for the apparent lack of fossils.