Study delves back five million years

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THERE are a lot of things that draw visitors to Launceston but a five-million-year-old skeleton isn't often one of them.

Monash University PHD students Peter Trusler and Alana Sharp are in the city this week taking advantage of the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery's megafauna skeleton collection.

Megafauna - as the name suggests - are large animals that roamed the planet in another era.

The duo will seek to unlock further secrets of the creatures through studying their skulls and utilising technology to recreate how they would have looked alive.

Mr Trusler said the museum's Palorchestes skull was a particular drawcard.

Dated at five million years, the mostly intact skull hailed from the Northern Territory and was a rare specimen, Mr Trusler said.

``Alana is doing CT scanning and digital reconstructions . . . so we can digitally put the skull back together again,'' he said.

Also under the microscope - and scanning machine - is a Zygomaturus skull, which was found in the Mowbray swamp about 100 years ago and is thought to be 60,000 years old.

When it was alive, it would have looked sort of like a cross between a rhino and a wombat and weighed half a tonne.

``Aborigines could have lived alongside these creatures - that's just some of the information we're trying to find out,'' Mr Trusler said.

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