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New kangaroo described — from Papua New Guinea — ScienceDaily

Australian palaeontologists from Flinders College have described a brand new genus of large fossil kangaroo from the mountains of central Papua New Guinea.

The brand new description of the fossil kangaroo has discovered that, slightly than being intently associated to Australian kangaroos, it most definitely belongs to a singular genus of extra primitive kangaroo discovered solely in PNG.

The kangaroo, first described in 1983 by Professor Tim Flannery, is understood from fossils round 20,000-50,000 years previous. They arrive from the Nombe Rockshelter, an archaeological and palaeontological website in Chimbu Province, Papua New Guinea.

Nombe is already recognized for a number of extinct species of kangaroo and large four-legged marsupials referred to as diprotodontids.

Flinders College researchers have renamed the animal Nombe nombe, after the placement of its discovery — and plan to return to PNG for additional excavations and analysis subsequent yr.

The squat, muscular Nombe lived in a various montane rainforest with thick undergrowth and a closed cover. Right here, it advanced to eat the powerful leaves from timber and shrubs, with a thick jaw bone and robust chewing muscle tissue.

A lot of the animal lifetime of New Guinea is little-known exterior of the island, regardless of its color and distinctiveness. This discovery breathes some new life into the exploration of New Guinea’s faunal historical past.

“The New Guinean fauna is fascinating, however only a few Australians have a lot of an concept of what is really there,” says Flinders palaeontology PhD candidate Isaac Kerr.

“There are a number of species of enormous, long-nosed, worm-eating echidna which are nonetheless round at present, many various wallaby and possum species that we do not get in Australia, and extra nonetheless within the fossil report.

“We consider these animals as being uniquely Australian, however they’ve this intriguing different life inside New Guinea.”

Utilizing 3D imagery and different expertise, the researchers have studied stays from the PNG Museum and Artwork gallery. They now imagine that the species could have advanced from an historic type of kangaroo that dispersed into New Guinea within the late Miocene epoch, round 5-8 million years in the past.

Throughout that point, the islands of New Guinea and mainland Australia had been related by a ‘land-bridge’ resulting from decrease sea ranges, slightly than separated by the flooded Torres Strait as they’re at present. This ‘bridge’ allowed early Australian mammals, together with varied large, extinct varieties, to maneuver into the rainforests of New Guinea.

When the Torres Strait flooded once more, nonetheless, these populations of animals turned disconnected from their Australian kin, and so advanced individually to swimsuit their tropical, mountainous PNG residence.

Nombe is now thought of the descendant of considered one of these historic lineages of kangaroos.

Sporadic palaeontological work was undertaken there by American and Australian researchers within the Sixties, ’70s and ’80s, a lot of which resulted in fascinating discoveries of extinct megafauna. Nevertheless, no palaeontological digs have taken place there for the reason that early ’90s, a state of affairs the Flinders College researchers search to treatment.

Co-author on the brand new Royal Society article, Flinders College Professor Gavin Prideaux, says the analysis will increase due to a grant from the Australia Pacific Science Basis.

“We’re very excited to undertake three palaeontological digs at two completely different websites in jap and central PNG over the subsequent three years,” he says.

“We’ll be working with the curators of the Papua New Guinea Museum and Artwork Gallery and different contacts in PNG, with whom we hope to construct some native curiosity in New Guinean palaeontology.”

This analysis was funded by the Royal Society of South Australia and the Australian Analysis Council.


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