Wholly dooley, look what we’ve found—19 September

Researchers at The University of New South Wales, supported by ARC funding, have discovered a new species of extinct flesh-eating marsupial that terrorised Australia’s drying forests about five million years ago—identified from a fossil discovered in remote north-western Queensland. The hypercarnivore, which is thought to have weighed about 20 to 25 kg, is a distant and much bigger cousin of Australia’s largest living carnivorous marsupial, the Tasmanian Devil, which is about half the size. Named Whollydooleya tomnpatrichorum, it is the first creature to be formally identified from a range of strange new animals whose remains have been found in a fossil site in Queensland dubbed ‘New Riversleigh’. A description of the new marsupial, based on its fossil molar tooth, is published in the Memoirs of Museum Victoria.

Whollydooleya tomnpatrichorum had very powerful teeth capable of killing and slicing up the largest animals of its day,” said study lead author, UNSW Professor Mike Archer. “Fortunately, in 2012, we discovered a whole new fossil field that lies beyond the internationally famous Riversleigh World Heritage Area fossil deposits in north-western Queensland. This exciting new area—New Riversleigh—was detected by remote sensing using satellite data.”

With the help of ARC funding and a grant from the National Geographic Society, Archer and his colleagues began to systematically explore New Riversleigh in 2013.

Media issued by The University of New South Wales.

Caption: Whollydooleya tomnpatrichorum was twice the size of a Tasmanian Devil.
Image credit: Pete 'Langy' Langshaw #1528372File ID



Original Published Date: 
Monday, September 19, 2016