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Marsupial Lion

There were several animals in the genus Thylacoleo.  The biggest one known is Thylacoleo carnifex.

When the first remains of this animal were found, they were described by Sir Richard Owen in 1859.  Although he did not have much to go on he considered the Thylacoleo to be a very powerful predator.

Other people disagreed, and some thought it was a fruit eater.  It has also been considered to be a scavenger, but after experts had looked at all these possibilities it is now accepted that Sir Richard Owen was correct.

Strong Bite

Studies on this animal have concluded that it had the most powerful bite for its size of any mammal, living or dead.

Fast Killer

If an African Lion kills a large animal it can easily take 15 minutes to kill its prey.  Thylacoleo could probably kill a large animal in about a minute.

While many predators have large canine teeth, the Thylacoleos had tiny ones.  Instead it apparently killed with its cutting teeth rather than its stabbing ones.


This group of animals is extinct.  A possible date of its extinction is about 46,000 years ago.
We do not know how intelligent this animal was.  Generally predators tend to be more intelligent than herbivores.  And the nearest living relative of the Marsupial lion is probably the Wombat.  Wombats are a highly intelligent animal.  We can only speculate about the intelligence of its powerful relative.



People came to Australia sometime between 60,000 And 40,000 years ago.

For many years scientists had wondered if Humans lived here at the same time as the Marsupial Lion.  A cave picture of what almost has to be a Marsupial Lion has been found and now it is mostly accepted that we did come here before the Thylacoleo‚Äôs extinction.


We do not know why this animal became extinct. 

There seems little doubt that it was at least potentially dangerous to Humans.  It is quite possible that Humans hunted this animal, both to prevent attacks and for food.

Possibly, the combination of drying conditions and hunting by people caused the extinction.


Skeleton of Marsupial Lion in Narracoorte Caves.
Photo by Karora
Marsupial Lion
By Nobu Tamura (Own work) [GFDL ( or CC-BY-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons