The Real Drop Bears of Australia

A drop bear is a cryptid that Australians love to warn tourists about. They resemble koalas, but are super vicious. A drop bear will hide in a tree until an unsuspecting person walks underneath and then drop onto them and rip them apart. Or at least that's the story. I don't understand why they try to scare tourists like that, since people visiting Australia from elsewhere are all primed to believe every living creature there is trying to kill you already.  

But there were once real drop bears. Like koalas, they were not bears, but marsupials. The genus called Nimbadon roamed the rainforests of southern Australia 15 million years ago, during the Middle Miocene Epoch. Nimbadon looked somewhat like a wombat, but grew to be 70 kilograms (154 pounds)! While they were first considered something like a "marsupial sheep," scientists have determined that these creatures lived in the trees, slung underneath branches like sloths. Occasionally, a Nimbadon would fall out of a tree, just like a drop bear. They know this because some Nimbadons fell out of trees and into caves, where their remains were found 15 million years later.

That's wild enough, but the article about prehistoric drop bears also mentions crocodiles that climbed trees. Now that would make a great legend! -via Metafilter

(Image credit: Peter Schouten)

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