Protemnodon anak (Owen, 1859)

Pleistocene Ice-age kangaroo, Giant wallaby



Taxonomy & Nomenclature

Synonym/s: Macropus anak Owen, 1859 (original combination); Halmaturus anak (Owen, 1859); Protemnodon og Owen, 1874


Owen (1874) implicitly designated P. anak as the type species of Protemnodon (see Kerr et al., 2024:10).


Conservation Status


Last record: Late Pleistocene





Anatomy & Morphology

It weighed an estimated 100kg (Johnson & Prideaux, 2004:557) or 131kg (Johnson, 2006:18) or a mean 131 ± 15.8 (n=4, range 122–153kg) (Helgen et al., 2006).


Biology & Ecology

It was a browser (Johnson, 2006:18).



QMF44650 ("skull")

QMF44658 ("dentary")

F18904/9 (Dawson, 1985:66)

NMV P39101 (Helgen et al., 2006:303)

NMV P159917 (Helgen et al., 2006:303)

FUCN 400111 (Helgen et al., 2006:303)

SAM P27272 (Helgen et al., 2006:303)






Original scientific description:

Owen, Richard. (1859). On a collection of Australian fossils in the museum of the natural history society of Worchester; with descriptions of the lower jaw and teeth of the Nototherium inerme and Nototherium mitchelli, Owen; demonstrating the identity of the latter species with Zygomaturus of Macleay. Quarterly Journal of the Geological Society of London 15: 176-186.


Other references:

Armand, L., Ride, W. D. L. and Taylor, G. (2000). The stratigraphy and palaeontology of Teapot Creek, MacLaughlin River, NSW. Proceedings of the Linnean Society of New South Wales 122: 101-121.

Bartholomai, A. (1973). The genus Protemnodon Owen (Marsupialia; Macropodidae) in the upper Cainozoic deposits of Queensland. Memoirs of the Queensland Museum 16(3): 309-363.

Bartholomai, Alan. (1977). The fossil vertebrate fauna from Pleistocene deposits at Cement Mills, Gore, Southeastern Queensland. Memoirs of the Queensland Museum 18(1): 41-51.

den Boer, W. (2018). Evolutionary Progression of the Iconic Australasian Kangaroos, Rat-Kangaroos, and their Fossil Relatives (Marsupialia: Macropodiformes). Digital Comprehensive Summaries of Uppsala Dissertations from the Faculty of Science and Technology 1624. 105 pp. Uppsala: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis.

Buckley, Michael, Cosgrove, Richard, Garvey, Jillian and Prideaux, Gavin J. (2017). Identifying remains of extinct kangaroos in Late Pleistocene deposits using collagen fingerprinting. Journal of Quaternary Science 32(5): 653-660.

Cascini, Manuela et al. (2018). Reconstructing the Evolution of Giant Extinct Kangaroos: Comparing the Utility of DNA, Morphology, and Total Evidence. Systematic Biology. doi: [Abstract]

Dawson, Lyndall. (1985). Marsupial fossils from Wellington Caves, New South Wales; the historic and scientific significance of the collections in the Australia Museum, Sydney. Records of the Australian Museum 37(2): 55-69.

Errey, K. and Flannery, T. F. (1978). The neglected megafaunal sites of the Colongulac region, western Victoria. The Artefact 3: 101-106.

Flannery, Timothy F. (1980). Macropus mundjabus, a new kangaroo (Marsupialia: Macropodidae) of uncertain age from Victoria, Australia. Australian Mammalogy 3: 35-51.

Flannery, Timothy F. (1982). Hindlimb structure and evolution in the kangaroos (Marsupialia: Macropodidae), pp. 507-524. In: Rich, Patricia-Vickers and Thompson, E. M. (eds.). The Fossil Vertebrate Record of Australasia. Melbourne: Monash University.

Flannery, Timothy F. and Gott, B. (1984). The Spring Creek locality, southwestern Victoria, a late surviving megafaunal assemblage. Australian Zoologist 21(4): 385-422.

Gillespie, Richard, Camens, Aaron B., Worthy, Trevor H., Rawlence, Nicolas J., Reid, Craig, Bertuch, Fiona, Levchenko, Vladimir and Cooper, Alan. (2012). Man and megafauna in Tasmania: Closing the gap. Quaternary Science Reviews 37: 38-47. [Abstract]

Glauert, Ludwig. (1912). Fossil marsupial remains from Balladonia in the Eucla Division. The Balladonia "Soak". Records of the Western Australian Museum 1(2): 47-65.

Glauert, L. G. (1926 "1925"). A list of Western Australian fossils. Supplement no.1. West. Aust. Geol. Surv. Bull. 88: 36-71.

Helgen, Kristofer M., Wells, Rod T., Kear, Benjamin P., Gerdtz, Wayne R. and Flannery, Timothy F. (2006). Ecological and evolutionary significance of sizes of giant extinct kangaroos. Australian Journal of Zoology 54(4): 293-303. [body weight estimate]

Hope, J. H. (1973). Mammals of the Bass Strait Islands. Proceedings of the Royal Society of Victoria 85(2): 163-196. [remains from King Island]

Johnson, Chris N. (2006). Australia's Mammal Extinctions: A 50 000 Year History. Port Melbourne, Victoria: Cambridge University Press. x + 278 pp. [p. 18, fig. 2.3]

Johnson, Chris N. and Prideaux, Gavin J. (2004). Extinctions of herbivorous mammals in the late Pleistocene of Australia in relation to their feeding ecology: no evidence for environmental change as cause of extinction. Australian Ecology 29: 553-557.

Jones, Billie, Janis, Christine and Rayfield, Emily. (2020). Limb proportions indicate Protemnodon’s locomotion was divergent from modern large macropodines. Poster presentation (abstract), p. 46. In: Progressive Palaeontology 2020 Abstract Booklet.

Jones, Billie et al. (2022). Distal Humeral Morphology Indicates Locomotory Divergence in Extinct Giant Kangaroos. Journal of Mammalian Evolution 29: 27-41.

Kerr, Isaac A. R., Camens, Aaron B., van Zoelen, Jacob D., Worthy, Trevor H. and Prideaux, Gavin J. (2024). Systematics and palaeobiology of kangaroos of the late Cenozoic genus Protemnodon (Marsupialia, Macropodidae). Megataxa 11(1): 1-261.

Llamas, Bastien et al. (2014). Late Pleistocene Australian marsupial DNA clarifies the affinities of extinct megafaunal kangaroos and wallabies. Molecular Biology and Evolution 32: 574-584.

Lundelius, Ernest L. Jr. and Turnbull, W. D. (1989). The mammalian fauna of Madura Cave, Western Australia. Part VII: Macropodidae: Sthenurinae, Macropodinae, with a review of the marsupial portion of the fauna. Fieldiana, Geology, new series 17: 1-71.

R. Lydekker. 1894. A Hand-Book to the Marsupialia and Monotremata 1-302.

Mahoney, J. A. and Ride, W. D. L. (1975). Index to the genera and species of fossil Mammalia described from Australia and New Guinea between 1838 and 1968. Western Australian Museum Special Publication 6: 1-250.

Marshall, Larry G. (1974). Late Pleistocene mammals from the "Keilor Cranium Site", southern Victoria, Australia. Memoirs of the National Museum of Victoria 35: 63-86.

McNamara, Ken and Murray, Peter. (2010). Prehistoric Mammals of Western Australia. Welshpool, WA: Western Australian Museum. 107 pp.

Molnar, R. E., and C. Kurz. 1997. The distribution of Pleistocene vertebrates on the eastern Darling Downs, based on the Queensland Museum collections. Proceedings of the Linnean Society of New South Wales 117:107±134.

Murray, P. F., and A. Goede. 1977. Pleistocene vertebrate remains from a cave near Montagu, N.W. Tasmania. Records of the Queen Victoria Museum 60: 1-30.

Owen, Richard. (1873). On the fossil mammals of Australia. Part VIII. Macropodidae: Genera: Macropus, Osphranter, Phascolagus, Sthenurus, Protemnodon. Proceedings of the Royal Society London 21: 128-135.

Owen, Richard. (1874). On the fossil mammals of Australia.-Part VIII. Family Macropodidae: Genera Macropus, Osphranter, Phascolagus, Sthenurus, and Protemnodon. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society 164: 245-287, pls 20-7.

Price, Gilbert J. and Sobbe, I. H. (2005). Pleistocene palaeoecology and environmental change on the Darling Downs, southeastern Queensland, Australia. Memoirs of the Queensland Museum 51(1): 171-201. [subfossil remains from Darling Downs, Queensland]

Price G.J., Webb G.E., Zhao J.-x., Feng Y.-x., Murray A.S., Cooke B.N., Hocknull S.A., Sobbe, I.H. (2011). Dating megafaunal extinction on the Pleistocene Darling Downs, eastern Australia: the promise and pitfalls of dating as a test of extinction hypotheses. Quaternary Science Reviews 30(7-8): 899-914.

Reed, Elizabeth H. and Bourne, Steven J. (2000). Pleistocene fossil vertebrate sites of the south east region of South Australia. Transactions of the Royal Society of South Australia 124(2): 61-90.

Roberts, Richard G, Flannery, Timothy F., Ayliffe, Linda, Yoshida, Hiroyuki, Olley, Jon M., Prideaux, Gavin J., Laslett, Geoff M., Baynes, Alexander, Smith, M. A., Jones, Rhys I. and Smith, Barton L. (2001). New ages for the last Australian megafauna: Continent-wide extinction about 46,000 years ago. Science 292(5523): 1888-1892.

Scott, H. H. (1905). Memoir on Macropus anak from King Island Queen Vict. Mus. Brochure. 1.

Smith F.A., Lyons S.K., Ernest S.K.M., Jones K.E., Kaufman D.M., Dayan T., Marquet P.A., Brown J.H., Haskell J.P. 2003 Body mass of late Quaternary mammals. Ecology 84(12), 3403-3403.

Turney, Chris S. M., Flannery, Timothy F., Roberts, Richard G., Reid, Craig, Fifield, L. Keith, Higham, Tom F. G., Jacobs, Zenobia, Kemp, Noel, Colhoun, Eric A., Kalin, Robert M. and Ogle, Neil. (2008). Late-surviving megafauna in Tasmania, Australia, implicate human involvement in their extinction. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science 105(34): 12150-12153.

Van Huet, Sanja. (1999). The taphonomy of the Lancefield swamp megafaunal accumulation, Lancefield, Victoria. In: Baynes, Alexander and Long, John A. (eds.). Papers in vertebrate palaeontology. Records of the Western Australian Museum Supplement 57: 331-340.

White, J. Peter and Flannery, Tim. (1995). Late Pleistocene fauna at Spring Creek, Victoria: A re-evaluation. Australian Archaeology 40: 13-17. [link to pdf copy at bottom of the page]

Willis, P. M. A. and Molnar, Ralph E. (1997). Identification of large reptilian teeth from Plio–Pleistocene deposits of Australia. Journal and Proceedings of the Royal Society of New South Wales 130(3-4): 79-92.


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