(CNN)Researchers have discovered a new type of lion, the size of a domestic cat, with powerful flesh-cutting teeth, which roamed the earth around 24 million years ago.
Paleontologists discovered the remains of the creature at Australia's Riversleigh World Heritage Area in Queensland, where experts have been excavating fossils by dissolving limestone rock deposits with acid for more than 40 years.
Researchers from the University of New South Wales uncovered a partial mammal's skull, and initially presumed that it belonged to the Priscileo Rauscher genus of marsupial lion because of its teeth and size.
Marsupial lions died out 35,000 years ago and varied in size, with some as big as a modern-day African lioness, Michael Archer, professor of biological, earth and environmental science at the University of New South Wales, told CNN.
Experts studied the mammal's skull and lower jaw, and noticed the animal's skull anatomy was different than what they had previously encountered in other marsupial lions.
"As we found more and better specimens at Riversleigh, we began to realize it didn't belong to that group at all. It was a new kind of marsupial that hadn't been seen before," Archer, who worked alongside lead author Anna Gillespie and Suzanne Hand, told CNN. "It was a different branch on the marsupial lion family tree," he said.
It was only by studying the creature that researchers realised how "significantly different" the animal, named Lekaneleo, was.
In a paper published in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, researchers confirmed that the mammal was a new genus of the marsupial lion.
Lekaneleo would have been the "size of a pussycat," Archer said, but had "probably the most powerful flesh-cutting teeth that we've ever seen."