Extinct kangaroo could climb trees with its huge claws – tech2.org

Extinct kangaroo could climb trees with its huge claws


Skulls of the extinct kangaroo just described.

Skulls of the extinct kangaroo just described.
Picture: N. Warburton, Murdoch University

A new study describes a “semi-arboreal kangaroo” who lived 40,000 years ago in Australia. Apparently even jumping can get boring.

According to the study, published This week at the Royal Society Open Science, the discovery came from fossils excavated decades ago from Western Australia’s Mammoa Cave and the Thylacoleo Cave system. The skulls, teeth, and skeletons of the two Extinct marsupials were originally identified as representatives of an Ice Age wallaby, Wallabia kitchenneri. The researchers postulate that they are physically different, however, and inrather than assigning the fossils to the genus Congruus, which was previously only occupied by a fossil wallaby, Congruus congruus. They are calling the newly identified animal Congruus kitchenneri.

“This discovery provides another reminder of how little we understand even of Australia’s relatively recent geological past.” said co-author Gavin Prideaux, a paleontologist at Flinders University in Australia, at a Murdoch University Press release.

Just as vast swaths of the Northern Hemisphere were covered by miles of ice sheets during the Pleistocene, the now arid expanses of Australia were once forested and grassy. Therefore, a pleasant habitat for an animal that, according to the study authors, was a long-necked herbivore.

Many paleontological discoveries in Australia come from its cave networks, which offer vivid analyzes the biodiversity of the Pleistocene. While the team distinguished this species through its cranial and dental features, they got clues about its behavior from its close-up.extremities. His humerus and ulna suggested the animal was extremely muscular (he had big pecs), I had a greater range of motion that would allow her to raise her arms above her head (think: have you ever seen a modern kangaroo give up?), and she had large hands with huge, curved claws. (The curvature in digits is presented as an adaptation to grasp branches in other species, too.)

Mammoth Cave in Western Australia, where many Pleistocene bones have appeared.

Mammoth Cave in Western Australia, where many Pleistocene bones have appeared.
Photo: @Gary Tindale / CC BY 2.0 (Fair use)

“This is really interesting, not just from the point of view of the unexpected tree-climbing behavior of a large wallaby., but also because these specimens come from an area that is now devoid of trees, “said co-author Natalie Warburton, a paleontologist at Murdoch University in Perth, in the same statement. “The habitat and environment in the area were really different from what they are now, and perhaps different than what we might have previously interpreted for that time.”

ORThere are fossils of marsupials in Australian caves. similarly point out Aspiretions of life (or at least food) on the ground. Marsupials generally have extremely robust upper bodies, like jelly bean-shaped baby marsupials, born less developed than other mammals, they have to get into their parents’ bag to continue their development. The recently described species is the latest evidence of the marsupial’s lasting evolutionary engagement with its upper body.

Congruus kitchenneri You wouldn’t be the only kangaroo to master tree climbing. That cloak is worn today by 14 strangely adorable animal species. tree kangaroos, which appears to have embarked on a joint evolutionary venture with red pandas and lemurs. The fossil kangaroo developed its tree-climbing traits separately, the authors said, meaning that two groups of kangaroos learned to climb independently.

The newly described species was only semi-arboreal and would have moved slowly through trees, according to the researchers. But for a creature five times larger than living tree kangaroos, it is not a bad record at all.

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