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.

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