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.

 

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