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Australia had tree-climbing sheep-sized marsupials

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Sheep-sized relatives of modern-day wombats lived in Australian treetops 15 million years ago, a palaeontologist said Thursday as she was honoured for her discovery.

Karen Black, from the University of New South Wales, said her team discovered the world’s largest tree-climbing marsupial among fossils found at the Riversleigh World Heritage Site in Queensland state.

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The 70 kilogram (154 pound) diprotodontoids were most closely related to wombats, a furry ground-dwelling animal only found inAustralia, said Black, who specialises in the diversity and evolution of the country’s marsupials.

Her research has focused on a 15 million-year-old cave that is littered with fossils and bones and contains well-preserved skulls and skeletons of the diprotodontoid marsupial called Nimbadon.

“The Nimbadon fossil material is an incredibly rare and significant resource, not only because it is so exceptionally well-preserved, but because it represents individuals from a range of ages from tiny suckling pouch young to elderly adults,” said Black.

“The Nimbadon material has allowed the first detailed study of skull development in a fossil marsupial as well as brain development and behaviour.”

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She said the creature would have been the largest animal climbing trees at the time in Australia.

“(It) probably looked a bit like a long-legged wombat,” she said.

The existence of the cave came to light in 2010. Black said it appeared animals plunged to their deaths through a vertical entrance that was obscured by vegetation.

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The site is scientifically important because it documents a critical time in the evolution of Australia’s flora and fauna when lush greenhouse conditions were giving way to a long, slow drying out.

“The cave and its fossils are providing a rich legacy of clues about the environment 15 million years ago,” she said.

Black was recognised for her work Thursday when the Australian Academy of Science gave her the 2012 Dorothy Hill Award for female researchers in the earth sciences.

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Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. Unlike other news sites, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

We need your support to keep producing quality journalism and deepen our investigative reporting. Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Invest with us in the future. Make a one-time contribution to Raw Story Investigates, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you.



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As many as 20 corrections officers have been subpoenaed by grand jury investigating Jeffrey Epstein’s suicide

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According to sources interviewed by CNN, as many as 20 correctional officers are being called to testify before the grand jury investigating how Jeffrey Epstein was able to kill himself.

It was reported late Wednesday that there were eight officers who knew to watch Epstein while he was housed in the Metropolitan Correctional Center. Epstein had left "suicide watch" after an alleged suicide attempt, and he was supposed to remain under the watchful eye of officers. However, the officers are overworked and the prison understaffed, requiring officers to work several overtime shifts, the officer's union explained.

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Vegan parents who severely malnourished 10-month-old daughter to the point of bone loss will avoid jail time

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An Australian couple will avoid jail time and instead serve 300 hours of community service after they pled guilty to failing to provide the necessities of life for their 19-month-old daughter, Australian outlet 7News reported this Thursday.

The mother (33) and father (35), who have not been publicly identified for legal reasons, fed their daughter a strict vegan diet that caused the child to become severely malnourished. The child was in such ill health that she weighed just over 10 pounds when authorities discovered her. Additionally, doctors found that due to her strict diet, her bones had not developed properly since she was born and she had yet to grow teeth.

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‘All over the map’: CNN details the bizarre surge of Trump’s flip-flops

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Following two mass shootings in one weekend, President Donald Trump promised to strengthen background checks for gun purchases. But just the next week--reportedly after speaking with NRA head Wayne LaPierre--dropped his resolve and said there were already sufficient background checks on the books.

That's not the only recent policy flip-flop by the President.

On CNN Thursday, White House reporter Sarah Westwood chronicled all the policies on which the president has reversed course. First, the president abruptly cancelled plans to cut foreign aid.

"President Trump, the White House, they were facing a wave of opposition from Congressional appropriators in both parties and from the State Department who thought that this move could do harm to national security," Westwood said.

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