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PostPosted: Sun Oct 15, 2006 9:17 pm    Post subject: Megalania Reply with quote

Megalania (Varanus prisca) was an extinct giant monitor lizard. It was one of the megafauna that roamed southern Australia, and appears to have become extinct around 40,000 years ago. Once thought to belong to a distinct monotypic genus and called Megalania prisca (which means “ancient giant butcher”), it is now recognized as a species in the genus Varanus, which encompases all monitor lizards. The first aboriginal settlers of Australia would certainly have encountered living Megalania.

Size of the Megalania
Megalania was a giant lizard, reaching maximum lengths of about 16.3-23 feet long (previous lengths of 30 feet are now considered inaccurate) and weighed around 600-800 pounds. Megalania was the largest terrestrial lizard that has ever lived, and a fearsome predator as well as a scavenger. Judging from its size, Megalania would feed mostly on med-large sized animals, including any of the giant marsupials like Diprotodon along with other reptiles, small mammals and birds and their eggs and chicks. With heavily built limbs and body and a solid skull full of short blade-teeth. Due to its size and similarities to the Komodo Dragon, a relationship between the two species has been suggested. In reality however Megalania's closest relative is the perentie, Australia's largest lizard.

Live Megalania
There have been numerous reports and rumors of living Megalania in Australia, and occasionally New Guinea, as recently as the mid 1990s. Australian cryptozoologist Rex Gilroy has stated that Megalania is still alive today, and it is only a matter of time until one comes in. Aside from stories and eyewitness accounts, the only evidence that Megalania might still be alive today is plaster casts of possible Megalania footprints that Gilroy made in 1979.
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