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04-Apr-2020 08:23

The genus Sarcophilus contains two other species, known only from Pleistocene fossils: S. The roots of Australian marsupials are thought to trace back tens of millions of years to when much of the current Southern Hemisphere was part of the supercontinent of Gondwana; marsupials are believed to have originated in what is now South America and migrated across Antarctica, which had a temperate climate at the time.According to Pemberton, the possible ancestors of the devil may have needed to climb trees to acquire food, leading to a growth in size and the hopping gait of many marsupials.He speculated that these adaptations may have caused the contemporary devil's peculiar gait.As most of their prey died of the cold, only a few carnivores survived, including the ancestors of the quoll and thylacine.The young become independent after around nine months, so the female spends most of her year in activities related to birth and rearing.Since the late 1990s, the devil facial tumour disease (DFTD) has drastically reduced the devil population and now threatens the survival of the species, which in 2008 was declared to be endangered.It is characterised by its stocky and muscular build, black fur, pungent odour, extremely loud and disturbing screech, keen sense of smell, and ferocity when feeding.

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Critics of this theory point out that as indigenous Australians only developed boomerangs and spears for hunting around 10,000 years ago, a critical fall in numbers due to systematic hunting is unlikely.A tooth found in Augusta, Western Australia has been dated to 430 years ago, but archaeologist Oliver Brown disputes this and considers the devil's mainland extinction to have occurred around 3000 years ago.