Procoptodon

Last updated: May 20, 2022
Verified by: AZ Animals Staff
Image Credit Adwo/Shutterstock.com

The largest variety of kangaroo to have ever been discovered.

Procoptodon Scientific Classification

Kingdom
Animalia
Phylum
Chordata
Class
Mammalia
Order
Diprotodontia
Family
Macropodidae
Genus
†Procoptodon

Read our Complete Guide to Classification of Animals.

Procoptodon Conservation Status

Procoptodon Locations

Procoptodon Locations

Procoptodon Facts

Fun Fact
The largest variety of kangaroo to have ever been discovered.
Most Distinctive Feature
Short face; hoof-like feet; long tail.
Diet
Herbivore
Favorite Food
Trees, shrubs, grass, and other plant life.

Procoptodon Physical Characteristics

Weight
440-530 lbs.
Height
6.6 feet, though the largest was 8’10”

This post may contain affiliate links to our partners like Chewy, Amazon, and others. Purchasing through these helps us further the A-Z Animals mission to educate about the world's species..

View all of the Procoptodon images!



Description & Size

The Procoptodon is a genus of large kangaroos, which were notorious for their significant high and short face. To date, it is the largest variety of kangaroo to have ever been discovered, measuring 6.6 feet tall in the largest specimens. It could weigh between 440 and 530 lbs., though there are many other kangaroo species that are smaller. The largest known Procoptodon was just two inches short of 9 feet tall.

The appearance of the Procoptodon is a lot like what you picture as today’s kangaroos, though it was quite a bit larger. Their faces were short and flat with eyes that pointed forward. Instead of individual toes, the large foot seemingly had a single toe or claw, giving it more of the shape of a horse’s foot. While unusual, this shape helped them to get through open forests and plains with great speed, seeking out leaves and grass as their main diet. Their hands comprised of large claws atop their two incredibly long fingers.

Even though the hop would decidedly be the most natural way for them to move, their weight would make it incredibly hard. Still, researchers are still uncertain whether it may have been the largest mammal to be able to use hopping as its form of locomotion because of this bone structure. Still, the movement at this weight would put the user at a higher risk of breaking a tendon. Their ankles and hip joints were broad, made to withstand the friction caused by twisting or torsion. Their stance suggests that they would keep weight on one leg at a time, and they may have even been an aggressor toward humans with great movement.

Based on the current fossils, the Procoptodon had large and fused lower jaws, giving this animal a distinct chin. It used its incisor to bite local vegetation while feeding, though the last of their premolars came in much later than the rest of their teeth. They had long arms with long curvy claws on their middle fingers, though their overall size suggests that their reach could give them vegetation up to 1.5 times their height.
It is possible that Procoptodon young are small and hairless, remaining in the pouch like today’s kangaroos after they are born.

Diet – What Did the Procoptodon Eat?

Based on the molar patterns and other teeth, scientists believe that the Procoptodon mostly had a diet of trees, shrubs, grass, and other plant life. They seemed to graze as needed, though it has been incredibly difficult to identify a specific diet for any herbivore. They needed to be near a body of water for hydration because their stomach contents suggested that the vegetation consumed was higher in salt.

Habitat – When and Where the Procoptodon Lived

New South Wales and South Australia are the main places where the Procoptodon lived during the Pleistocene Epoch, choosing an environment that was semiarid without trees. However, some parts of the former were cold and wet at the time that this animal would’ve lived there. The area was also notable for sand dunes, woodlands, and savannahs. On Kangaroo Island, their footsteps have also been found.
To date, no fossils have been found in the northern regions of either of these areas.



A size comparison of a human & Procoptodon goliah, the largest kangaroo that ever lived. P. goliah & other sthenurine kangaroos were bipedal browsers.
A size comparison of a human & Procoptodon goliah, the largest kangaroo that ever lived. P. goliah & other sthenurine kangaroos were bipedal browsers.

By Nobu Tamura – https://spinops.blogspot.com/2020/07/procoptodon-goliah.html, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=99474302 – License

Threats And Predators of the Procoptodon

While the size of the Procoptodon might lead you to believe that nothing could threaten its lifespan, it still would’ve been victim to the predators larger than it, like the marsupial lion or a former species of monitor lizard that would come down into the lower vegetation areas. The best way for the Procoptodon to protect itself would’ve been its speed.

Considering the time that researchers believe that the Procoptodon lived, there’s a chance that they encountered humans before they went extinct. In fact, there is some suggestion that the end of the species coincided with the increased number of humans in the area.

Discoveries and Fossils – Where the Procoptodon Was Found

The first time that scientists ever found the first Procoptodon fossil was in New South Wales in Lake Menindee. Since then, specimens have been found in Lake Callabonna, the Darling Downs, Nullarbor Plain, and other sizes. To show the public a preview of what this species probably looked like, a replica is found in the Australian Museum. Of the few skeletons found, scientists have been able to extract their entire bodies.

Extinction – When Did the Procoptodon Die Out?

Resilient and strong, the Procoptodon fossils have been dated as recently as 18,000 years ago, though evidence consistently shows that it lived at least as far back as 45,000 years ago before it went extinct. Researchers link a few possible changes to be due to climate changes during the end of the era. However, since the end of their species overlaps with the earliest humans on record. Further research shows that interaction with humans was inevitable, and researchers believe that the role that they played in the animal’s demise is likely.

The climate didn’t change significantly at the time of the last recorded Procoptodons, further supporting the idea that they may have been killed off ahead by humans. Based on the timelines, humans could’ve existed with them over the course of 10,000 to 15,000 years before they went extinct.

Another possible cause of their extinction is deforestation, which would’ve taken away their main source of nutrients. Still, humans are connected to this deforestation in Australia, due to setting these regions on fire. As researchers continue to study the Procoptodon, they believe that the particular plants that they might’ve eaten would not have been as likely to burn, suggesting that the fires wouldn’t have been enough to starve the species.

Similar Animals to the Procoptodon

Similar animals to the Procoptodon include:

  • Diprotodon – This extinct genus of marsupial lived in Australia around the same time. They are one of the original animals of Australia.
  • Red kangaroo – This kangaroo is the largest living species in this genus in the world.
  • Thylacine – This species of dog is also related to the Tasmanian wolf, and the most recent specimen was seen in the 1930s.

View all 117 animals that start with P

About the Author

Growing up in rural New England on a small scale farm gave me a lifelong passion for animals. I love learning about new wild animal species, habitats, animal evolutions, dogs, cats, and more. I've always been surrounded by pets and believe the best dog and best cat products are important to keeping our animals happy and healthy. It's my mission to help you learn more about wild animals, and how to care for your pets better with carefully reviewed products.

Procoptodon FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

When was the Procoptodon alive?

The Procoptodon lived during the Pleistocene Epoch, which covers the last ice age that the Earth went through. It ended 11,700 years ago, and the extinction of this kangaroo species has been linked to the introduction of humans into Australia.

How big was the Procoptodon?

The Procoptodon stood taller than most humans at 6.6 feet tall, and it is the largest kangaroo in existence. It weighed approximately 440 to 530 lbs.

Sources
  1. Wikipedia, Available here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Procoptodon
  2. Australian Museum, Available here: https://australian.museum/learn/australia-over-time/extinct-animals/procoptodon-goliah/
  3. Prehistoric Wildlife, Available here: http://www.prehistoric-wildlife.com/species/p/procoptodon.html
  4. The Conversation, Available here: https://theconversation.com/weve-decoded-the-numbat-genome-and-it-could-bring-the-thylacines-resurrection-a-step-closer-176528
  5. Prehistoric Fauna, Available here: https://prehistoric-fauna.com/Procoptodon-goliah

Newly Added Animals

A Russel’s Viper
Russel’s Viper

A Russel's viper strike is so forceful it can lift its entire body off the ground.

Most Recently Updated Animals

A Boxer Dog
Boxer Dog

Bright, energetic and playful!

A Diamondback Moth
Diamondback Moth

Adult males make high amplitude boing noise to attract females