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Implications of a new species of the Oligo-Miocene kangaroo (Marsupialia: Macropodoidea) Nambaroo, from the Riversleigh World Heritage Area, Queensland, Australia

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  14 July 2015

Benjamin P. Kear
Affiliation:
Department of Genetics, School of Molecular Sciences, La Trobe University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia 3086, South Australian Museum, North Terrace, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia 5000
Bernard N. Cooke
Affiliation:
Queensland Museum, PO Box 3300, South Brisbane, Queensland, Australia 4101
Michael Archer
Affiliation:
Vertebrate Palaeontology Laboratory, School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of New South Wales, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia 2052.
Timothy F. Flannery
Affiliation:
Division of Environment and Life Sciences, Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia 2109.

Abstract

A partial skeleton (including both skull and postcranium) and referred dental material attributable to a new species of Oligo-Miocene kangaroo, Nambaroo gillespieae, are described from the Riversleigh World Heritage Area, northwestern Queensland, Australia. The holotype specimen is one of the oldest articulated fossil kangaroo skeletons yet discovered and includes the first postcranial material definitively attributable to the extinct family Balbaridae. Functional-adaptive analysis (including comparisons with modern taxa) of the hindlimb and pedal elements suggests consistent use of quadrupedal progression rather than true hopping. Robust forelimbs and an opposable first pedal digit (lost in most macropodoids) might also indicate limited climbing ability. Cladistic analysis of 104 discrete cranio-dental and postcranial characters coded for 25 ingroup and one outgroup taxon places N. gillespieae in a plesiomorphic sister clade (also containing other Balbarids and the propleopine Ekaltadeta ima) to all other macropodoids. This result supports recent revisions to the classification of kangaroos, which recognize Balbaridae as the most basal macropodoid family-level taxon.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © The Paleontological Society 

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Implications of a new species of the Oligo-Miocene kangaroo (Marsupialia: Macropodoidea) Nambaroo, from the Riversleigh World Heritage Area, Queensland, Australia
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