Evolutionary Progression of the Iconic Australasian Kangaroos, Rat-Kangaroos, and their Fossil Relatives (Marsupialia: Macropodiformes)
- Location: Hamberg, Geocentrum, Department of Earth Sciences, Villavägen 16, Uppsala
- Doctoral student: den Boer, Wendy
- About the dissertation
- Organiser: Paleobiologi
- Contact person: den Boer, Wendy
In this thesis late Oligocene rat-kangaroo dental fossil elements associated with Palaeopotorous priscus were examined to get a better insight into the potential origins of the macropodiforms.
The exceptionally diverse macropodiform’s (kangaroos, rat-kangaroos and their fossil allies) currently have a fossil record that spans from the late Oligocene to the Holocene with an Australasian widespread fossil occurence. The origins of the macropodiforms are believed to have been during the Eocene possibly having split from the Phalangeridae. This is largely based on molecular data as there is a complete lack of macropodiform fossil material prior to the late Oligocene leaving the origins of the macropodiforms to be largely speculative. Thus, late Oligocene rat-kangaroo dental fossil elements associated with Palaeopotorous priscus (which shares characteristics observed in both phalangerid and macropodiforms) were examined to get a better insight into the potential origins of the macropodiforms. The results obtained suggested that P. priscus is currently the most basal macropodiform known. Furthermore, due to the absence of adequate macropodiform post-cranial material, the functional eco-morphological interpretation of various macropodiform fossil taxa has been based largely on cranial and dental characteristics. Consequently, the examination of Miocene Balbaridae kangaroo’s (Balbaroo nalima and an untaxonomised balbarid) post-cranial elements was undertaken, suggesting an array of locomotion types (similar to living macropodiforms) and a likely persistent arboreal and quadrupedal lifestyle. In addition, the Pleistocene Protemnodon anak’s post-cranial material are examined, proposing a probable combination of quadrupedal bounding and a slow walking gait alternative to the eminent fast bipedal saltation seen in almost all extant macropodiforms.