The giant platypus would have measured more than 1m (3ft) in length

Part of a giant platypus fossil has been unearthed in Queensland, Australia.

Scientists have dubbed the beast “platypus-zilla” and believe it would have measured more than 1m-long (3ft).

Writing in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, the researchers say the creature lived between five and 15 million years ago.

The discovery suggests the evolutionary back-story of today’s platypus is more complicated than was thought.

Prof Mike Archer, from the University of New South Wales, said: “Suddenly up pops ‘playtpus-zilla’ – this gigantic monstrosity that you would have been afraid to swim with.

“It indicates there are branches in the platypus family tree that we hadn’t suspected before.”

Bizarre looks

Today, all that survives of this platypus is a single fossilised tooth, which was unearthed in the Riversleigh fossil beds in northwest Queensland.

Based on its size, the researchers have estimated that the new species (Obdurodon tharalkooschild) would have been at least twice as large as today’s platypus.

Bumps on its teeth and other fossil finds nearby suggest that the creature feasted on crustaceans, turtles, frogs and fish.

Although the area where the molar was found is a desert, millions of years ago it would have been covered in forest. The researchers think the beast would have spent its time in and around freshwater ponds.

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