Facts about Varanus Priscus, an extinct prehistoric animal

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Dinosaur Jungle   >   Other Prehistoric Animals   >   Varanus Priscus


Varanus Priscus

Scientific Classification
  Kingdom Animalia
  Phylum Chordata
  Class Sauropsida
  Order Squamata
  Suborder Scleroglossa
  Infraorder Platynota
  Superfamily Varanoidea
  Family Varanidae
  Order Varanus
  Species Varanus priscus
Varanus priscus (almost always known as "Megalania", although this is not the correct scientific name - see below) was a giant monitor lizard that lived in Australia, between about 1.6 million and 40,000 years ago. It may well have been encountered by early aboriginal people when they first arrived in Australia.

No complete fossil skeletons of Megalania have yet been found, so there is still considerable debate about the animal's size. Some estimates say the largest individuals could have been 23 feet (7 meters) long, whereas others put an upper limit of around 15 feet (4.5 meters). In any case, Megalania is the largest terrestrial lizard known, and probably fed on animals such Diprotodon.

The name "Megalania" was chosen by Sir Richard Owen in 1859, he called the species "Megalania prisca" which means "ancient great roamer". However today, "Megalania" is considered to be a synonym for "Varanus" (the genus containing monitor lizards), and because "Varanus" was coined first, this name takes priority. Additionally, since "Varanus" is masculine, whereas "Megalania" is femine, the word "prisca" needs to change to "priscus", and thus the correct name of the species is "Varanus priscus".

Although Megalania is generally considered to be extinct, some cryptozoologists (people who search for rumored animals whose existence is uncertain), claim that it is possible that there might be a small surviving population in the wilderness areas of New Guinea or Australia.

Varanus Priscus Timeline:

Varanus priscus were giant monitor lizards that lived in Australia between 1.6 million and 40,000 years ago

Varanus priscus were giant monitor lizards that lived in Australia between 1.6 million and 40,000 years ago

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