Giant kangaroos once 'walked on two feet'

A giant, stocky and extinct family of kangaroos were once able to walk on two feet, "convincing" new research has proposed.

The family of "sthenurine" kangaroos, which died out 30,000 years ago, ranged from 1 to 2 metes tall, and it's likely the largest, 250kg members of the family were too big to hop.

The study, published in the academic journal Plos One, compared today's kangaroos to the bones of their extinct cousins also finding that sthenurine kangaroos were once extremely stocky, had short snouts and used specialised arms to reach for food in trees.

The idea that the kangaroos may have walked occurred to the study's lead author Professor Christine Janis while she examined their bones in a Sydney museum.

"I thought: Wait a minute, this doesn't look right. These things were weird," says Professor Janis, a palaeontologist at Brown University in the United States.

After examining hundreds of kangaroo bones in Australian museums Professor Janis found that the extinct marsupials did appear to be moving in a very different way to their present-day cousins.

"The biggest ones got to a size that does strain the credulity of hopping," Professor Janis says - although she emphasises it is difficult to prove her claims.

"Obviously you're going out on a limb when you're proposing something about an extinct animal. But all the data fit."

Dr Vera Weisbecker, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Queensland in Australia, says she finds the study very convincing.

"The idea has been around that sthenurines may have just been too large to hop, particularly those really large forms," she told the BBC.

"It's a very unusual thing to propose. And they're making a very good case."


Man wanted over Madeleine McCann link also chased by NZ police

A man reportedly wanted for questioning over missing British girl Madeleine McCann is also wanted in New Zealand, police have revealed.

Police say Roderick MacDonald, who is known to police in New Zealand as Roderick Robinson, is wanted for alleged offences that took place in New Zealand in 2009 in Hamilton and Auckland.

Robinson was facing one charge of committing an indecent act on a girl under the age of 12 in Auckland and three against a boy under the age of 12 from Hamilton as well as one Passport Act charge.

MacDonald fled to New Zealand 2009 from Australia after being released on bail, following jail time for indecent assault.

According to a report in the United Kingdom's Daily Telegraph, MacDonald is to be extradited from Malta to the UK over the rape of a child

and will be questioned over Madeleine McCann's disappearance.

The 76-year-old, who police believe has information about Madeleine's disappearance, eventually fled New Zealand on a fake passport, bound for Portugal after being pursued by Kiwi police.

He had originally been jailed in England for sexually assaulting a nine-year-old girl in 1998 and 1999.

British police now believe Roderick was in Portugal's Algarve region at the same time as four-year-old Madeleine McCann, in 2007, and is now being questioned by UK investigators. 

Madeleine McCann Source: 1 NEWS



John Grisham: Men watching child porn aren't all paedophiles

Men who watch child pornography aren't all paedophiles American author John Grisham has argued in a recent interview.

Speaking with the United Kingdom's Daily Telegraph, Mr Grisham said too many people were going to jail in the US for white collar crimes such as watching child pornography online.

"We have prisons now filled with guys my age. Sixty-year-old white men in prison who've never harmed anybody, would never touch a child," he told the paper.

"But they got online one night and started surfing around, probably had too much to drink or whatever, and pushed the wrong buttons, went too far and got into child porn."

When asked in the interview if he thought his opinion fuelled the industry of abuse towards children, Mr Grisham said the current system was not drawing the line between abusers and those who download content.

"I have no sympathy for real paedophiles," he said.

"God, please lock those people up. But so many of these guys do not deserve harsh prison sentences, and that's what they're getting."

Speaking about a friend from law school who was caught in a porn sting operation 10 years ago, Mr Grisham argued that sentencing for viewing child pornography was too excessive.

"His drinking was out of control, and he went to a website. It was labelled 'sixteen year old wannabee hookers or something like that'. And it said '16-year-old girls'. So he went there. Downloaded some stuff - it was 16 year old girls who looked 30.

"He shouldn't have done it. It was stupid, but it wasn't 10-year-old boys. He didn't touch anything. And God, a week later there was a knock on the door: 'FBI!' and it was sting set up by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to catch people - sex offenders - and he went to prison for three years."

Grisham says the US has "gone nuts" with putting sex offenders in prison.

"There's so many of them now. There's so many 'sex offenders' - that's what they're called - that they put them in the same prison. Like they're a bunch of perverts, or something; thousands of 'em."