A new study is arguing that the giant, prehistoric kangaroo that once hopped around Australia may have been hunted to extinction by the first settlers on the continent.
Researchers analyzed the teeth of the nearly seven-foot-tall kangaroo, known as Procoptodon goliah, to determine what it ate and drank. Different sources of water and food leave trace amounts of particular types, or isotopes, of hydrogen and carbon atoms, which are deposited in the teeth like a recorded diet. Additionally, tiny patterns of wear give clues about the type of food a given creature chewed. The team concluded that the giant kangaroos fed mainly on saltbush shrubs. These hardy bushes thrive in arid conditions, which makes it less likely that the kangaroos ran out of food as the continent’s climate got hotter and drier.