In contrast, the recently extinct Tasmanian tiger was considerably more specialized in what it could eat than Nimbacinus and large living dasyurids. This likely made the Tasmanian tiger more restricted in the range of prey it could hunt, "and more vulnerable to extinction," Attard said.
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Reconstructing past communities and the ecologies of the species that contribute to them "is pivotal if we are to map out and understand change over time," Wroe told Live Science in an email. "Trying to understand how these animals lived and what they ate is also fun!"
Future analysis of the Nimbacinus skeleton could reveal if it was partially tree dwelling like the spotted-tailed quoll, which could help explain the similarities the researchers have noted so far between the two marsupial species.
The scientists detailed their findings online April 9 in the journal PLOS ONE.
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7 Iconic Animals Humans Are Driving to Extinction Wipe Out: History's Most Mysterious Extinctions Gallery of Fantastic Fossils Article originally published on Livescience.com. Copyright 2014 LiveScience, a TechMediaNetwork company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.