Molecular diversity of rumen methanogens in sheep in Queensland, Australia was investigated using 16S rRNA gene libraries prepared from pooled rumen contents from nine merino sheep. A total of 78 clones were identified revealing 26 different sequences. Of these 26 sequences, eight sequences (15 clones) were 95-100% similar to cultivated methanogens belonging to the orders Methanobacteriales and Methanomicrobiales, and the remaining 18 phylotypes (63 clones) were 72-75% similar to Thermoplasma acidophilum and Thermoplasma volcanium. These unique sequences clustered within a distinct and strongly supported (100% bootstrap support) phylogenetic group, exclusively composed of sequences from uncharacterized archaea from very diverse anaerobic environments. Members of this unique group that were previously considered atypical for the rumen environment were the predominant clones.