Excerpt from the book Animals Evolution Avoided. This book describes 40 animals that ought to exist but don’t, because I made them up.
In north Queensland, the World Heritage-listed Wet Tropics includes Kuranda Rainforest and the Daintree – the oldest tropical rainforest on earth. Accessible from Cairns, Port Douglas, and Cape Tribulation, the Daintree is home to an incredible array of plants and animals. Sadly, it is no longer the home of the animal that scientists refer to as the clumsy kangaroo, which became extinct about 200 years ago.
This kangaroo was between 6 and 8 feet tall and had back feet about 1.5 metres in length. The estimates are that the kangaroo was able to run at 35 miles per hour, which might have been ideal in the outback, but was less useful in the trees. They could also leap forward around 7 metres in one bound and jump two metres in the air. The problem was that the kangaroo was none too bright. Many skeletons have been found under the low-hanging branches of trees, indicating the kangaroo jumped up in the air and cracked its head on the branch.
Other skeletons have been found at the bottoms of slopes and river cliffs, indicating the kangaroo hadn’t been able to stop in time and had plunged over the edge to its death. Still more skeletons have been found in the forest where root systems have come to the surface and the kangaroo tripped over these roots and tumbled to the ground.
It’s also possible the animal’s eyesight was not good, as scientists found one perfectly preserved skeleton wrapped around a tree, deep in the jungle. Either the animal was moving too fast and missed seeing the tree altogether or it was hopping through the forest at night. Most of the bones in the kangaroo’s skeleton were broken and the scientists showed its injuries were commensurate with the kangaroo hitting the tree at around 30 miles an hour.