Sthenurus

Name: Sthenurus ‭(‬Strong tail‭).
Phonetic: Sten-u-rus.
Named By: Richard Owen‭ ‬-‭ ‬1873.‭
Classification: Chordata,‭ ‬Mammalia,‭ ‬Marsupiala,‭ ‬Diprotodontia,‭ ‬Macropodidae,‭ ‬Sthenurinae.
Species: S.‭ ‬andersoni,‭ ‬S.‭ ‬atlas,‭ ‬S.‭ ‬browneorum,‭ ‬S.‭ ‬gilli,‭ ‬S.‭ ‬maddocki,‭ ‬S.‭ ‬occidentalis,‭ ‬S.‭ ‬oreas,‭ ‬S.‭ ‬orientalis,‭ ‬S.‭ ‬pales,‭ ‬S.‭ ‬stirlingi,‭ ‬S.‭ ‬tindalei.
Diet: Herbivore.
Size: 3‭ ‬meters long.
Known locations: Australia.
Time period: Zanclean of the Pliocene through to the end of the Tarantian of the Pleistocene.
Fossil representation: Several specimens.

       Sthenurus was a large kangaroo,‭ ‬similar to the better known Procoptodon.‭ ‬Analysis of Sthenurus fossil locations combined with carbon dating has yielded the conclusion that Sthenurus was a generalist herbivore that adapted to whatever plants were available.‭ ‬This is because analysis shoes that at some times and locations Sthenurus would be a browser of vegetation and at others a grazer of grass,‭ ‬but most importantly these times form up a mixed sequence that does not support the progression from one kind of foraging to another.‭ ‬Additionally there are other deposits that hint that Sthenurus browsed and grazed at the same time.‭
       Part of this dietary adaptability came from the teeth which had a thick covering of enamel.‭ ‬Although better suited for tougher vegetation,‭ ‬these teeth would have worked perfectly fine upon softer plants too.‭ ‬As a kangaroo Sthenurus would have also been flexible enough to get down low for grazing,‭ ‬or rising up on its legs to reach vegetation that was beyond the reach of smaller herbivores.‭ ‬When doing so Sthenurus may have relied more upon its tail to act a makeshift‭ ‘‬third leg‭’ ‬since while the tail was shorter than in some kangaroos,‭ ‬it was especially robust in its makeup.‭ ‬This might have been to compensate for the extra weight of the body of Sthenurus which overall also seems to have been of a strongly robust build.‭ ‬Sthenurus also possessed a degree of stereoscopic vision which would have helped it with depth perception‭ (‬the ability to judge distances‭)‬,‭ ‬something that would help it reach out at branches with its arms.
       One difference between Sthenurus and the modern red kangaroo‭ (‬Macropus rufus‭) ‬is that the feet of Sthenurus were formed from a single‭ (‬fourth‭) ‬toe,‭ ‬rather than the three toes of the red kangaroo.‭ ‬This single toe ended in a nail that was more like a hoof,‭ ‬and was probably formed because a single toe would have been better able to support the extra weight of the larger body,‭ ‬especially when Sthenurus was travelling at speed.‭ ‬These enlarged single toes can also be seen on other large kangaroos like the aforementioned Procoptodon.



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