Odd Wombat Relative Once Lived in Australia

Mukupirna fortidentata looked a bit like a contemporary wombat crossed with a marsupial lion (Thylacoleo carnifex.

An artist's impression of Mukupirna nambensis living in main Australia that was much greener 25 million years back. Image credit: Peter Schouten.

An artist’s impression of Mukupirna nambensis residing in main Australia that was much greener 25 million years back. Image credit: Peter Schouten.

Mukupirna fortidentata resided in Australia throughout the Oligocene date, around 25 million years back.

This animal is just the 2nd recognized member of Mukupirnidae, a household of marsupials put up less than 3 years ago for Mukupirna nambensis

Mukupirnids are believed to have actually diverged from a typical forefather with wombats over 25 million years earlier.

“Three types of wombat (Vombatidae) and the koala (Phascolarctidae) are the just living agents of an as soon as varied radiation of vombatiform marsupials,” stated Arthur Crichton, a Ph.D. prospect at Flinders University, and associates.

“This suborder consisted of the biggest Australian marsupial herbivores, with 6 extinct households acknowledged, particularly: Diprotodontidae, Palorchestidae, Ilariidae, Wynyardiidae, Maradidae and Mukupirnidae.”

“Our view of the divergences in between these households, and Australian marsupial households more usually, has actually been hidden by the temporal space in the recognized fossil record from the Early Eocene (55 million years ago) to the Late Oligocene (25 million years ago).”

“By the Late Oligocene, all 8 vombatiform households had actually currently developed distinctively specialized jaws, intensifying the difficulty of fixing their correlations.”

Mukupirna fortidentata looked a bit like a contemporary wombat crossed with a marsupial lion.

The animal had a suite of morphological functions that are uncommon amongst ancient vombats, which the authors translate as adjustments for obtaining and processing difficult plant product.

These consist of: a brief, broad snout; big, robust, steeply upturned incisors; and a high, anteroposteriorly reducing gradient in cheek tooth size.

“Weighing in at around 50 kg, Mukupirna fortidentata was amongst the biggest marsupials of its time,” the paleontologists stated.

“Everything about its skull and jaws programs this animal had a quite effective bite.”

“Its front teeth, for instance, were big and spike-shaped, being more like those of squirrels than wombats.”

“These would have allowed them to fracture difficult foods, like difficult fruits, seeds, nuts and bulbs.”

“Its molars, by contrast, were really rather comparable to those of some monkeys, such as macaques.”

An overall of 35 specimens, consisting of a partial skull and a number of lower jaws, of Mukupirna fortidentata were discovered in between 2014 and 2020 at the Pwerte Marnte fossil website, Northern Territory, Australia.

“The oral product from Mukupirna fortidentata helps in the recognition of 2 more allied types: a vombatid from the more youthful Late Oligocene Tarkarooloo Local Fauna, South Australia; and a vombatoid from the earliest Miocene Geilston Bay Local Fauna, Tasmania,” the scientists stated.

“The Lake Tarkarooloo types, in specific, offers assistance that early vombatids existed by a minimum of 24.1 million years back in the Late Oligocene.”

“This would suggest that agents from all 3 referred vombatoid households had actually stemmed by the Late Oligocene.”

A paper on the findings was released this month in the Alcheringa: An Australasian Journal of Palaeontology


Arthur I. Crichton et alA brand-new types of Mukupirna (Diprotodontia, Mukupirnidae) from the Oligocene of Central Australia clarifies basal vombatoid correlations. Alcheringa: An Australasian Journal of Palaeontologyreleased online March 19, 2023; doi: 10.1080/ 03115518.2023.2181397

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