So, kangaroos didn't always hop ... and some were massive

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So Kangaroos Didn't Always Hop


When we think of kangaroos, we think of a hopping mammal that lives in Australia and occasionally boxes world-famous movie directors. Now, a new study finds that an extinct group of the kangaroo family couldn't actually hop.

The study, published in PLOS One, says thousands of years ago, this group of kangaroos - the Sthenurines - could weigh more than 500 lbs, which kept its feet firmly on the ground.

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So, kangaroos didn't always hop ... and some were massive
A baby kangaroo looks out from its mother's pouch in the Zoo in Erfurt, central Germany, Tuesday, April 22, 2014. (AP Photo/Jens Meyer)
A baby kangaroo looks out from its mother's pouch in the Zoo in Erfurt, central Germany, Tuesday, April 22, 2014. (AP Photo/Jens Meyer)
Irwin Kangaroo, right, and Christie Carr, left, have found a new home at the Garold Wayne Interactive Zoological Park in Wynnewood, Okla, Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2013. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
UNSPECIFIED - JUNE 15: Eastern grey Kangaroo mother (Macropus giganteus) with her joey inside the pouch, Macropodidae, drawing. (Photo by DeAgostini/Getty Images)
A kangaroo design sits on the face of an Australian one ounce gold nugget coin in this arranged photograph at Gold Investments Ltd. bullion dealers in London, U.K., on Tuesday, July 15, 2014. Gold held above a one-month low on speculation the biggest decline this year may spur demand as holdings in the largest exchange-traded product backed by the metal expanded to the highest level since April. Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg via Getty Images
In this Jan. 9, 2013 photo provided by the Chicago Zoological Society, a nearly 11-month-old male kangaroo joey who recently emerged from his mother’s pouch, explores his new surroundings at Brookfield Zoo’s Australia House exhibit in Brookfield, Ill. (AP Photo/Chicago Zoological Society, Jim Schulz)
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The BBC reports that, "Researchers believe the 9-foot-tall creature, which had a rabbit-like face, would have strolled around on two legs. They believed it weighed too much to hop."

There are several other differences researchers pointed out between those ancient and enormous kangaroos and the ones we know today: rigid spines, tails that weren't flexible, larger hip and knee joints and a flared pelvis. These are all findings that led researchers to the conclusion that the prehistoric 'roos couldn't hop.

The study did conclude that unless a fossilized trackway - science speak for fossilized footprints - was found, it'd be hard to "completely" verify the hypothesis.

It's not the first time scientists have found species' ancestors that don't look a whole lot like their modern descendants. Take the Megatherium, for instance. This giant looked like a cross between a bear and an anteater, but was actually an ancestor of the sloth.

This video includes images from Getty Images and Angela Marie Henriette / CC BY 2.0 and music from Pierlo / CC BY 3.0.

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