“The animal wasn’t an emu; it looked like the megafauna bird Genyornis, with thick, huge toes and short legs,” stated Mr Gunn.
“When we got to the beak we knew that was no emu. We thought, ‘goodness do we have a Genyornis?’,” said anthropologist and paleontologist Peter Murray, who is now retired from the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory.
Genyornis had a big beak that it used to eat fruits and probably smaller animals that were either too stupid or too slow to escape. Genyornis fossils reveal that it had large hoof-like claws on its toes, adapting it to a cursorial life.
“If it is a Genyornis — and it certainly does have all the features of one — it would be the oldest dated visual painting that we’ve got in Australia,” said Mr Gunn.