Cookeroo, a new genus of kangaroos from Riverlsiegh

Partial skull of Cookeroo hortusensis

Partial skull of Cookeroo hortusensis

A new genus and two new species of ancient kangaroos were recently described from 23-18 million year old fossil sites at the Riversleigh World Heritage Area. The study, published in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, describes Cookeroo, a new genus belonging to the Macropodid family, which includes all modern kangaroos and wallabies. It appears that, like other kangaroos from the same fossil deposits at Riversleigh, these new species could not hop.

Cookeroo, is named for Dr Bernard Cooke, who has led much of the research focused on kangaroo evolution at Riversleigh. Bernie played a role in describing 15 Riversleigh kangaroo species including:

 

  • Balbaroo fangaroo
  • Balbaroo nalima
  • Ganawamaya acris
  • Ganawamaya aediculis
  • Ganawamaya ornata
  • Ganguroo bilamina
  • Ganguroo bites
  • Ganguroo robustiter
  • Hypsiprymnodon dennisi
  • Hypsiprymnodon karenblackae
  • Hypsiprymnodon philcreaseri
  • Nambaroo couperi
  • Nambaroo gillespieae
  • Wanburoo hilarus
  • Wururoo dayamayi

In light of his significant contribution to our understanding of kangaroo taxonomy and evolution, it seems only fitting that a genus of kangaroo should be named after him.

Partial skull of Cookeroo bulwidarri

Partial skull of Cookeroo bulwidarri

Cookeroo bulwidarri, occurs in late Oligocene sites (approximately 23 million year ago). “Bulwidarii” means white in the Aboriginal Waanyi language and is named for White Hunter Site at Riversleigh. Cookeroo hortusensis, occurs in early Miocene (approximately 20 – 18 million years ago). “Hortusensis” is Latin for “belonging to the garden” named for Neville’s Garden Site at Riversleigh.

Reference:

Butler K., Travouillon K.J., Price G.J., Archer M., and Hand S.J. (2016) Cookeroo, a new genus of fossil kangaroo (Marsupialia, Macropodidae) from the Oligo-Miocene of Riversleigh, northwestern Queensland, Australia. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology. DOI: 10.1080/02724634.2016.1083029.