Wakiewakie lawsoni

Wakiewakie lawsoni

Reconstruction of Wakiewakie lawsoni
– Art by Dorothy Dunphy (Archer et al. 1994)

Wakiewakie lawsoni (Lawson’s Wakiwakie) was a small rat-kangaroo related to bettongs and other rat-kangaroos. It was most likely omnivorous, though it may have been a specialist, eating mostly fungi (mushrooms) in the Riversleigh rainforests.

Body size estimate

Body mass estimated at around 800 grams.

Distribution and locality

Wakiewakie lawsoni is known from the early Miocene deposits of the Riversleigh World Heritage Area,  northwestern Queensland and from the Kutjamarpu Local Fauna in South Australia.

 

Riversleigh deposits include:

Faunal Zone B (Early Miocene) – Upper Site.

 

Habitat

It is found in Faunal Zones B (Early Miocene). Faunal Zone B is considered to be a rainforest environment.

Feeding and Diet

It was most likely omnivorous, though it may have been a specialist, eating mostly fungi (mushrooms) in the Riversleigh rainforests.

 

Wakiewakie fossil

Fossil jaw of Wakiewakie lawsoni

Fossil material

A near complete lower jaw (dentary) was recovered from Kutjamarpu Local Fauna in South Australia. Only one specimen of this species was found at Riversleigh.

 

Evolutionary Relationships

Wakiewakie lawsoni is a member of the family Macropodidae, a family which included the rat-kangaroos (Potoroinae) and bettongs.

Classification

Kingdom:

             Animalia

Phylum:

             Chordata

Class:

             Mammalia

Order:

             Diprotodontia

Family:

             Macropodidae

Genus:

             Wakiewakie

Species:

             lawsoni

 

References

  • Woodburne, M. O. 1984. Wakiewakie lawsoni, a new genus and species of Potoroinae (Marsupialia: Macropodidae) of medial Miocene age, South Australia. Journal of Paleontology 58, 1062-1073.
  • Travouillon, K.J., Legendre, S., Archer, M., and Hand, S.J., 2009. Palaeoecological Analyses of Riversleigh’s Oligo-Miocene Sites: Implications for Oligo-Miocene climate change in Australia. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology,Palaeoecology 276, 24–37.

Forest Dwelling Dreamtime Cuscus

Onirocuscus silvicultrix

Reconstruction of Onirocuscus silvicultrix – Art by Dorothy Dunphy (Archer et al. 1994)

Onirocuscus silvicultrix (meaning ‘Forest Dwelling Dreamtime Cuscus’) is an extinct species of Cuscus (Family Phalangeridae) found in the early Miocene of Riversleigh World Heritage Area. It is represented by two lower jaws and a lower molar only.

 

Body size estimate

Body mass estimated around 1.8kg.

 

Distribution and locality

Onirocuscus silvicultrix is only known from Riversleigh. It is found in the following Riversleigh site:

Faunal Zone B (early Miocene) – Boid Site East, Camel Sputum Site and Wayne’s Wok Site.

 

Habitat

It is found in Riversleigh Faunal Zone B. Faunal Zone B is considered to represent rainforest environments.

 

Feeding and Diet

It was likely to be herbivorous like its modern relatives, feeding on fruits, flowers and leaves of rainforest tree species.

 

Fossil jaws of Onirocuscus silvicultrix

Fossil jaws of Onirocuscus silvicultrix

Fossil material

Onirocuscus silvicultrix is known two lower jaws, QMF24743 and QMF41197, and a lower molar QMF13101.

 

Evolutionary Relationships

It has closer affinities with other fossil species from Riversleigh WHA and Hamilton, Victoria, than with modern cuscus species.

 

Classification

Kingdom:
Animalia
Phylum:
Chordata
Class:
Mammalia
Order:
Diprotodontia
Family:
Phalangeridae
Genus:
Onirocuscus
Species:
silvicultrix

References

  • Archer, M., Hand, S.J. & Godthelp, H. 1994. Riversleigh: the Story of Animals in Ancient Rainforests of Inland Australia. Reed Books, Sydney.
  • Crosby, K., 2007. Rediagnosis of the fossil species assigned to Strigocuscus (Marsupialia, Phalangeridae), with description of a new genus and three new species. Alcheringa 31, 33-58.

Muizon’s little joke

Joculusium muizoni

Reconstruction of Joculusium muizoni – Art by Dorothy Dunphy (Archer et al. 1994)

Joculusium muizoni (meaning Muizon’s little joke, after Palaeontologist Christian de Muizon and the fossil site Gag Site) was a very small carnivorous marsupial from the Middle Miocene (around 14 million years old) of Riversleigh, northwestern Queensland, Australia. Only a single lower jaw of this animal has been recovered so very little is known about its relationship to other animals, though it is likely to be related to animals such as quolls, Tasmanian Tigers and Tasmanian Devils.

 

Body size estimate

It weight approximately 132 grams.

 

Distribution and locality

Joculusium muizoni  is known from the Riversleigh World Heritage Fossil Site in northwestern Queensland. It is found in the following sites:

Faunal Zone C (Middle Miocene) -Gag Site

Habitat

It is found in Faunal Zone C.  Faunal Zone C is considered to be a rainforest environment.

Feeding and Diet

Joculusium muizoni was probably a small carnivore feeding on small vertebrates and insects.

 

The fossil lower jaw of Joculusium muizoni.

The fossil lower jaw of Joculusium muizoni.

Fossil material

Joculusium muizoni is from a single lower jaw, QM F36442.

Evolutionary Relationships

With so little known about this animal, it is difficult to say for sure what its closest relative is, but it was confidently placed within the order Dasyuromorphia, so it is related to animals such as quolls, tasmanian tigers and tasmanian devils.

Classification

Kingdom:
Animalia
Phylum:
Chordata
Class:
Mammalia
Cohort:
Marsupialia
Order:
Dasyuromorphia
Family:
incertae sedis (unknown)
Genus:
Joculusium
Species:
muizoni

References

  • Wroe, S. 2001. A new genus and species of dasyuromorphian from the Miocene of Riversleigh, northern Australia.  Memoirs of the Australian Association of Palaeontologists 25, 53-59.

Grand Bandicoot

Reconstruction of Galadi grandis – Art by Dorothy Dunphy (Archer et al. 1994)

Reconstruction of Galadi grandis
Art by Dorothy Dunphy (Archer et al. 1994)

Galadi grandis (Grand Bandicoot) was a large bandicoot from the early Miocene of Riversleigh, northwestern Queensland, Australia. It co-existed at the same time as Galadi speciosus (Beautiful Bandicoot) and probably preyed on larger species. It is represented by a well preserved jaw and several isolated teeth.

 

Body size estimate

Around 1.5 kg

Distribution and locality

Galadi grandis is known only from the Riversleigh World Heritage Fossil Site in northwestern Queensland. It is found in the following sites:

Faunal Zone B (Early Miocene) – Camel Sputum Site, Creaser’s Rampart Site, Mike’s Menagerie Site, Ross Scott-Orr (RSO) Site, Wayne’s Wok Site.

Fossil jaw of Galadi grandis. Scale bar = 2cm

Fossil jaw of Galadi grandis. Scale bar = 2cm

Habitat

It is found in Faunal Zone B and is considered to be a rainforest environment.

Feeding and Diet

Galadi grandis was predominantly faunivorous, feeding on small animals and may have occupied a niche that is now occupied by dasyurids.

Fossil material

Galadi grandis is known from 16 specimens which includes an almost complete lower jaw, and several isolated teeth.

Evolutionary Relationships

The latest phylogeny places Galadi grandis outside the group in which all modern bandicoots and bilbies belong. It therefore belong to an ancient lineage of bandicoots, which evolutionary relationship is yet to be understood.

Classification

Kingdom:
Animalia
Phylum:
Chordata
Class:
Mammalia
Cohort:
Marsupialia
Order:
Peramelemorphia
Family:
Incertae sedis
Genus:
Galadi
Species:
grandis

References

  • Travouillon, K.J., Gurovich, Y., Archer, M., Hand, S. J.  and Muirhead, J., 2013. The genus Galadi: three new bandicoots (Marsupialia; Peramelemorphia) from Riversleigh’s Miocene deposits, north-western Queensland, Australia. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, 33, 153–168.

Reid’s Dreamtime Cuscus

Onirocuscus reidi

Reconstruction of Onirocuscus reidi – Art by Dorothy Dunphy (Archer et al. 1994)

Onirocuscus reidi (meaning ‘Reid’s Dreamtime Cuscus’) is an extinct species of Cuscus (Family Phalangeridae) found in the middle Miocene of Riversleigh World Heritage Area. It is represented by two skulls and some upper and lower jaws.

 

Body size estimate

Body mass estimated around 2.5-4.4kg.

 

Distribution and locality

Onirocuscus reidi is only known from Riversleigh. It is found in the following Riversleigh site:

Faunal Zone C (middle Miocene) – Gag Site, Henk’s Hollow Site, Jim’s Carousel Site, Kangaroo Jaw and Last Minute Site.

 

Habitat

It is found in Riversleigh Faunal Zone C. Faunal Zone C is considered to represent rainforest environments.

 

Skull of Onirocuscus reidi

Skull of Onirocuscus reidi

Lower jaw of Onirocuscus reidi

Lower jaw of Onirocuscus reidi

Feeding and Diet

It was likely to be herbivorous like its modern relatives, feeding on fruits, flowers and leaves of rainforest tree species.

 

Fossil material

Onirocuscus reidi is known two skulls and some upper and lower jaws.

 

Evolutionary Relationships

It has closer affinities with other fossil species from Riversleigh WHA and Hamilton, Victoria, than with modern cuscus species.

 

Classification

Kingdom:
Animalia
Phylum:
Chordata
Class:
Mammalia
Order:
Diprotodontia
Family:
Phalangeridae
Genus:
Onirocuscus
Species:
reidi

References

  • Archer, M., Hand, S.J. & Godthelp, H. 1994. Riversleigh: the Story of Animals in Ancient Rainforests of Inland Australia. Reed Books, Sydney.
  • Flannery, T. & Archer, M., 1987. Strigocuscus reidi and Trichosurus dicksoni, two new phalangerids (Marsupialia: Phalangeridae) from the Miocene of northwestern Queensland. In Possums and Opossums: Studies in Evolution, M. Archer, ed., Surrey Beatty & Sons & the Royal Zoological Society of New South Wales, Chipping Norton, Australia, 527-536.
  • Crosby, K., 2007. Rediagnosis of the fossil species assigned to Strigocuscus (Marsupialia, Phalangeridae), with description of a new genus and three new species. Alcheringa 31, 33-58.

Nancy Haward’s Small Possum

Paljara nancyhawardae

Paljara nancyhawardae – Art by Dorothy Dunphy (Archer et al. 1994)

Paljara nancyhawardae (meaning Nancy Haward’s small possum) is an extinct species of ringtail possum found in the early and middle Miocene of Riversleigh World Heritage Area. It is one of the most common ringtail possums at Riversleigh, represented by over 70 specimens in 14 different sites.  This species is one of four currently known in this genus.

 

Body size estimate

Body mass estimated around 170-250 grams.

 

Distribution and locality

Paljara nancyhawardae is only known from Riversleigh. It is found in the following Riversleigh site:

Faunal Zone B (early Miocene) – Cadbury’s Kingdom Site, Camel Sputum Site, Creaser’s Rampart Site, Dirk’s Towers Site, Judith’s Horizontalis Site, Neville’s Garden Site, Price Is Right Site, Upper Site, Wayne’s Wok Site.

Faunal Zone C (middle Miocene) – Cleft Of Ages Site, Gag Site, Keith’s Chocky Block Site, Lois & Diedrie 1994 (LD94) Site.

Unknown –  Panorama Site.

 

Paljara nancyhawardae upper dentition. Scale = 1mm

Paljara nancyhawardae upper dentition. Scale = 1mm

Habitat

It is found in Riversleigh Faunal Zone B and C. Faunal Zone B and C are considered to represent rainforest environments.

 

Feeding and Diet

Its dentition suggests that it was a leaf eater, based on the heavy cranulations of its molars..

 

Fossil material

Paljara nancyhawardae is known from over 70 specimens, representing partial upper and lower jaws, and isolated teeth.
 

Paljara nancyhawardae lower dentition. Scale = 1mm

Paljara nancyhawardae lower dentition. Scale = 1mm

Evolutionary Relationships

It is unknown how this species of ringtail possum relates to the modern species.

 

Classification

Kingdom:
Animalia
Phylum:
Chordata
Class:
Mammalia
Order:
Diprotodontia
Family:
Pseudocheiridae
Genus:
Paljara
Species:
nancyhawardae

References

  • Archer, M., Hand, S.J. & Godthelp, H. 1994. Riversleigh: the Story of Animals in Ancient Rainforests of Inland Australia. Reed Books, Sydney.
  • Bassarova, M., Archer, M. & Hand, S.J., 2001. New Oligo-Miocene pseudocheirids (Marsupialia) of the genus Paljara from Riversleigh, northwestern Queensland. Memoirs of the Association of Australasian Palaeontologists 25, 61-75.
  • Roberts, K. K., Bassarova, M. & Archer, M. 2008. Oligo-Miocene ringtail possums of the genus Paljara (Pseudocheiridae: Marsupialia) from Queensland, Australia. Geobios 41, 833-844.

White Hunter’s Changing Teeth

Namilamadeta albivenator

Namilamadeta albivenator – Art by Dorothy Dunphy (Archer et al. 1994)

Namilamadeta albivenator  (meaning ‘White Hunter’s Changing Teeth’) was a dog sized herbivore from the family Wynyardiidae, and family that went extinct about 15 million years ago. Very little is known about this group of marsupials. The species was named after the fossil site it was found at, White Hunter Site, and the genus name comes from the fact that the teeth of the animal were changing shape as they were wearing down with age.

 

Body size estimate

Body mass estimated between 20kg.

 

Distribution and locality

Namilamadeta albivenator is known from the late Oligocene (23.03–28.4 million years old) and early Miocene (15.97-23.03 million years old) deposits of the Riversleigh World Heritage Area,  northwestern Queensland. Riversleigh deposits include:

Faunal Zone A (late Oligocene) – White Hunter Site.

Faunal Zone B (early Miocene) – LSO Site, Dirk’s Towers Site, Quantum Leap Site.

Skull of Namilamadeta albivenator

Skull of Namilamadeta albivenator

Habitat

It is found in Faunal Zone A and B. Faunal Zone A is considered to be open forest environments. Faunal Zone B is considered to be rainforest environments.

Feeding and Diet

The dentition of Namilamadeta albivenator suggests that it was a herbivore, probably feeding on leaves from shrubs and trees.

Fossil material

Namilamadeta albivenator is known from several  specimens including a partial skull and jaw, and many other dental elements.

 

Evolutionary Relationships

Namilamadeta albivenator is part of the family Wynyardiidae, an extinct family of large herbivores distantly related to wombats and koalas. It is unknown why this family went extinct, but the last member of this family disappeared sometime in the early Miocene (15.97-23.03 million years old).

 

Jaw of Namilamadeta albivenator

Jaw of Namilamadeta albivenator

Classification

Kingdom:
Animalia
Phylum:
Chordata
Class:
Mammalia
Order:
Diprotodontia
Family:
Wynyardiidae
Genus:
Namilamadeta
Species:
albivenator

References

  • Archer, M., Hand, S.J. & Godthelp, H. 1994. Riversleigh: the Story of Animals in Ancient Rainforests of Inland Australia. Reed Books, Sydney.
  • Rich, T. H. V. & Archer M. 1979. Namilamadeta snideri, a new diprotodontan (Marsupialia, Vombatoidea) from the medial Miocene of South Australia. Alcheringa 3: 197-208.
  • Pledge, N. S. 2005. The Riversleigh wynyardiids. Memoirs of the Queensland Museum 51: 135–169.

Gillespie’s Baby Possum

Djilgaringa gillespiei

Reconstruction of Djilgaringa gillespiei – Art by Peter Murray

 

Djilgaringa gillespiei (meaning Gillespie’s Baby Possum) is an extinct species of possum belonging to an extinct family, the Pilkipildridae. Pilkipildrids are a rare component of the fossil record of Australia and have been recovered from only a few sites from the middle Miocene of Riversleigh World Heritage Area and from the late Oligocene of South Australia. Djilgaringa gillespiei is represented only two specimens, a lower jaw and an upper molar. It was likely to be omnivorous, but may have also been specialised in eating seeds and hard fruits.

 

Body size estimate

Body mass estimated around 300-700grams.

 

Distribution and locality

Djilgaringa gillespiei is only known from Riversleigh. It is found in the following Riversleigh site:

Faunal Zone C (middle Miocene) – Gag Site and Last Minute Site.

 

Habitat

It is found in Riversleigh Faunal Zone C. Faunal Zone C is considered to represent rainforest environments.

 

Feeding and Diet

Very little is know is known about this group of possums. They are likely to be omnivorous, unless they were specialists in eating seed and hard fruits.

 

Fossils of Djilgaringa gillespiei. A) Lower jaw B) Upper molar

Fossils of Djilgaringa gillespiei
A) Lower jaw
B) Upper molar

Fossil material

Djilgaringa gillespiei is known from a lower jaws (QM F13028), a single upper molar (QM F14371).

 

Evolutionary Relationships

Very little is known about their evolutionary relationship. They may be related to other possums such as brushtail possums (Family Phalangeridae) or gliders (Family Petauridae), but they may be more closely related to other extinct groups of possums such as Miralinidae and Ektopodontidae.

 

Classification

Kingdom:
Animalia
Phylum:
Chordata
Class:
Mammalia
Order:
Diprotodontia
Family:
Pilkipildridae
Genus:
Djilgaringa
Species:
gillespiei

References

  • Archer, M., Hand, S.J. & Godthelp, H. 1994. Riversleigh: the Story of Animals in Ancient Rainforests of Inland Australia. Reed Books, Sydney.
  • Archer, M., Tedford, R. H. and Rich, T. H. 1987. The Pilkipildridae, a new family and four new species of ?Petauroid possums (Marsupialia: Phalangerida) from the Australian Miocene. In Possums and Opossums: Studies in Evolution, M. Archer, ed., Surrey Beatty & Sons & the Royal Zoological Society of New South Wales, Chipping Norton, Australia, 607-627.

 

Kutjamarpu Possum

Marlu kutjamarpensis

Reconstruction of Marlu kutjamarpensis

Marlu kutjamarpensis (Kutjamarpu Possum) is an extinct species of ringtail possum found in the early Miocene of Kutjamarpu Local Fauna in South Australia and middle Miocene of Riversleigh World Heritage Area. It is represented only by a lower and upper jaw, and isolated teeth. Like most ringtail possums, it would have fed on tree leaves predominantly.

 

Body size estimate

Body mass estimated around 500 grams.

 

Distribution and locality

Marlu kutjamarpensis is known from Kutjamarpus Local Fauna and Riversleigh. It is found in the following Riversleigh site:

Faunal Zone C (middle Miocene) – Gag Site, Ringtail Site, Wang Site.

 

Habitat

It is found in Riversleigh Faunal Zone C. Faunal Zone C is considered to represent rainforest environments.

 

Feeding and Diet

Its dentition suggests that it was a leaf eater, based on the heavy cranulations of its molars..

 

Fossil material

Marlu kutjamarpensis is known from the following specimens:

From Kutjamarpu LF: SAM P19961, left dentary (jaw) with i1 (first incisor), p3 (third premolar), m1-4 (molars 1 to 4), QM F52571, left m1 trigonid (anterior portion of the tooth), QM F52572, left dentary with m3, QM F52573, left dentary with m3.

From Riversleigh WHA: QM F52574, right m2 and QM F52751, left m3 from Ringtail Site, QM F52575 right dentary with m3-4 from Gag Site and QM F20762, right m3 from Wang Site.

Fossil teeth and jaws of Marlu kutjamarpensis

Fossil teeth and jaws of Marlu kutjamarpensis

 

Evolutionary Relationships

Marlu kutjamarpensis may be related to an extinct group of possums, the Pliocene-Pleistocene genus Pseudokoala.

 

Classification

Kingdom:
Animalia
Phylum:
Chordata
Class:
Mammalia
Order:
Diprotodontia
Family:
Pseudocheiridae
Genus:
Marlu
Species:
kutjamarpensis

References

  • Archer, M., Hand, S.J. & Godthelp, H. 1994. Riversleigh: the Story of Animals in Ancient Rainforests of Inland Australia. Reed Books, Sydney.
  • Roberts, K. K, Archer, M., Hand, S. J. and Godthelp, H. 2009. New Australian Oligocene to Miocene Ringtail Possums (Pseudocheiridae) and revision of the genus Marlu. Palaeontology 52: 441-456.

Dickson’s Hairy-tailed Possum

Trichosurus dicksoni

Reconstruction of Trichosurus dicksoni – Art by Dorothy Dunphy (Archer et al. 1994)

Trichosurus dicksoni (Dickson’s Hairy-tailed Possum) is an extinct species of brushtail possum (Family Phalangeridae) found in the middle Miocene of Riversleigh World Heritage Area. It is represented by several upper and lower jaws. Like it’s modern counterpart, it was most likely omnivorous, feeding opportunistically on fauna and flora.

 

Body size estimate

Body mass estimated around 1-2kg.

 

Distribution and locality

Trichosurus dicksoni is only known from Riversleigh. It is found in the following Riversleigh site:

Faunal Zone C (middle Miocene) – Angela’s Sinkhole Site, AL90 Site, Cleft Of Ages Site, Dome Site, Fireside Favourites Site, Gag Site, Gone Over Here Site, Group Site, Henk’s Hollow Site, Jim’s Carousel Site, Last Minute Site, Main Site and Ringtail Site.

 

Habitat

It is found in Riversleigh Faunal Zone C. Faunal Zone C is considered to represent rainforest environments.

 

Feeding and Diet

Like modern brushtail possums, it was most likely omnivorous.

 

Fossil material

Trichosurus dicksoni is known from several upper and lower jaws, and is quite common in middle Miocene sites from Riversleigh.

Fossil jaws and teeth of Trichosurus dicksoni.

Fossil jaws and teeth of Trichosurus dicksoni 

 

Evolutionary Relationships

It was probably one of the ancestors of the modern brushtail possums which are relatively common around Australia, and love to occupy people’s roofs.

 

Classification

Kingdom:
Animalia
Phylum:
Chordata
Class:
Mammalia
Order:
Diprotodontia
Family:
Phalangeridae
Genus:
Trichosurus
Species:
dicksoni

References

  • Archer, M., Hand, S.J. & Godthelp, H. 1994. Riversleigh: the Story of Animals in Ancient Rainforests of Inland Australia. Reed Books, Sydney.
  • Flannery, T. & Archer, M., 1987. Strigocuscus reidi and Trichosurus dicksoni, two new phalangerids (Marsupialia: Phalangeridae) from the Miocene of northwestern Queensland. In Possums and Opossums: Studies in Evolution, M. Archer, ed., Surrey Beatty & Sons & the Royal Zoological Society of New South Wales, Chipping Norton, Australia, 527-536.