A Micro lion named after Sir David Attenborough has caught the world’s attention. A group of researchers recently found a species of marsupial lion that they called a Micro lion. The animal lived around 18 million years ago.
The paleontologists at the University of New South Wales in Australia found the fossil of the tiny animal at the Riversleigh World Heritage fossil site in Queensland, Australia. The study was published in the online journal Palaeontologia Electronica.
According to the experts, the Micro lion is about the size of a squirrel. It is worth noting that the Micro lions are not linked to modern lions; they are related to marsupials such as koalas.
Paleontologists used the name lion as a “reference to the ancient hunters as dangerous carnivores” just like modern-day lions. Researcher Anna Gillespie said in a news release:
“Microleo shared these northern Miocene rain forests with two larger species of marsupial lion, one cat-sized and the other dog-sized. Although it is possible they competed with one other, the size differences probably means they each specialized on a different size range of prey.”
The Paleontologists decided to name the Micro lion after Sir David Attenborough, a famous and beloved English broadcaster and naturalist. Attenborough is viewed as a national treasure in Britain for launching Life on Earth in 1979, which became a benchmark of quality in wildlife film-making. Here is a brief bio of Sir Attenborough:
“He is best known for writing and presenting the nine Life series, in conjunction with the BBC Natural History Unit, which collectively form a comprehensive survey of animal and plant life on the planet. He is also a former senior manager at the BBC, having served as controller of BBC Two and director of programming for BBC Television in the 1960s and 1970s. Attenborough’s contribution to broadcasting and wildlife film-making has brought him international recognition. He has been called “the great communicator, the peerless educator” and “the greatest broadcaster of our time.” His programmes are often cited as an example of what public service broadcasting should be, even by critics of the BBC, and have influenced a generation of wildlife film-makers.”
Gillespie said in a news release:
“Microleo attenboroughi would have been more like the cute, but still feisty kitten of the family.It was not lion-size or even bob-cat-size. Weighing only about 600 grams, it was more like a ringtail possum in size.”
The expert revealed why the Micro lion Sir was named after David Attenborough:
“From micro meaning small (Greek) and leo meaning lion (Latin). The species name honors Sir David Attenborough for his dedication and enthusiasm in promoting the natural history of the world and the palaeontological treasures of the Riversleigh World Heritage Area in particular.”
The Micro lion named after Sir David Attenborough is the ninth and the smallest marsupial lion species found at the site.
Correction: this article previously stated that the micro lion was 5 feet long, 2 feet tall, and could rip through prey with its jaws. This was an error. This description fits the Thylacoleo carnifex, the first marsupial lion species that experts identified. It was discovered in 1858 and fully described in 1999.