Simosthenurus occidentalis - extinct short-faced kangaroo

(Simo) short-faced (Sthenurus) strong tail (occidentalis) from the west

The Simosthenurus or 'short-faced' kangaroos were among Australia's most common Megafauna species. More than 20 different species have been discovered, with two of these species first identified from Mammoth Cave. These extinct kangaroos were about the same size as a large western grey kangaroo but were much more robust and powerful. Unlike the western grey, the short faced kangaroos were leaf-eaters. By rearing up on their hind limbs and using their strong, long arms and fingers they could reach over their head to grasp high leaves and branches and pull them down to their mouth. Their powerful jaw muscles and large cheek teeth enabled them to cut and crush vegetation.

Simosthenurus had a short neck, a koala-shaped head and a degree of stereoscopic vision (that means both eyes see the same thing, but from a slightly different angle, which allows the brain to process the scene and judge depth and distance). This was important when reaching up for vegetation or hopping through the dense undergrowth. Unlike modern kangaroos which have three toes on their hind feet, short-faced kangaroos had only a single large toe. This, together with its heavy frame and large head meant it probably moved quite slowly through its forest or woodland environment. Another unusual feature of Simosthenurus was its large nasal areas which may have been used for amplifying sound for communication. They may have been very noisy animals.

simosthenurus occidentalis