Science & Technology

Fossil finds in Australia after 25M years offer glimpse into marsupial past

Sydney, Australia, Mar 29 (EFE).- Australian scientists have unearthed the fossilized remains of an early wombat and possum relatives that would have roamed the Earth some 25 million years ago.

Researchers from Flinders University made the discoveries in between 2020-22 just south of Alice Springs in Australia’s Northern Territory.

These long extinct marsupials would have once roamed a lush landscape of forests in an area that is now home to vast swathes of desert, the team said.

“These curious beasts are members of marsupial lineages that went extinct long ago, leaving no modern descendants,” PhD candidate Arthur Crichton, from the Flinders University Palaeontology Laboratory, said in a statement.

“The newly described species, an early possum named Chunia pledgei, has teeth that are a dentist’s nightmare, with lots of bladed cusps that are positioned side by side, like lines on a barcode,” he added.

“The other new species, called Mukupirna fortidentata, is a larger distant relative of wombats and has jaws and teeth shaped to suggest it had a pretty powerful bite.”

By analyzing some 35 fossil samples from the dig, the research team were able to determine that the early cousin of the wombat would have weighed around 50 kilograms (110 pounds) and would have looked like a cross between a modern wombat and a Thylacoleo, an extinct marsupial carnivore.

The animal had strong jaws and large, squirrel-like front teeth that allowed it to chew hard fruit, seeds and roots. EFE


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