Megalania was a giant Australian goanna or monitor lizard that lived during the Pleistocene epoch.
This incredible creature was the largest of its genus to live in Australia and possibly the world. It was the biggest carnivorous lizard to have existed here during the last two million years, and research has suggested that it is likely to have possessed venom glands, possibly making it the largest venomous vertebrate ever to have existed.
Megalania bones found on the Darling Downs in Queensland were first analysed in 1858 by Richard Owen, the brilliant naturalist who coined the term ‘dinosaur’. Owen suggested that the complete animal would have had an overall length of 20 feet – much bigger than any lizard known at the time.
Megalania is believed to have died out around 20 – 30,000 years ago as the Australian continent dried and its prey became less numerous. This makes it entirely feasible that the first people to arrive in Australia would have lived alongside – and been extremely wary of – this formidable lizard!
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