Australia had tree-climbing sheep-sized marsupials

Sheep-sized relatives of modern-day wombats lived in Australian treetops 15 million years ago, a palaeontologist said Thursday as she was honoured for her discovery.

Karen Black, from the University of New South Wales, said her team discovered the world's largest tree-climbing marsupial among fossils found at the Riversleigh World Heritage Site in Queensland state.

The 70 kilogram (154 pound) diprotodontoids were most closely related to wombats, a furry ground-dwelling animal only found in Australia, said Black, who specialises in the diversity and evolution of the country's marsupials.

Her research has focused on a 15 million-year-old cave that is littered with fossils and bones and contains well-preserved skulls and skeletons of the diprotodontoid marsupial called Nimbadon.

"The Nimbadon fossil material is an incredibly rare and significant resource, not only because it is so exceptionally well-preserved, but because it represents individuals from a range of ages from tiny suckling pouch young to elderly adults," said Black.

"The Nimbadon material has allowed the first detailed study of skull development in a fossil marsupial as well as brain development and behaviour."

She said the creature would have been the largest animal climbing trees at the time.

"(It) probably looked a bit like a long-legged wombat," she said.

The existence of the cave came to light in 2010. Black said it appeared animals plunged to their deaths through a vertical entrance that was obscured by vegetation.

The site is scientifically important because it documents a critical time in the evolution of Australia's flora and fauna when lush greenhouse conditions were giving way to a long, slow drying out.

"The cave and its fossils are providing a rich legacy of clues about the environment 15 million years ago," she said.

Black was recognised for her work Thursday when the Australian Academy of Science gave her the 2012 Dorothy Hill Award for female researchers in the earth sciences.

Loading...

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • Philippine economic growth slows to three-year low
    Philippine economic growth slows to three-year low

    Philippine economic growth in the first quarter slowed to a three-year low of 5.2 percent, well below forecasts, due to lethargic government spending and weak exports, officials said Thursday. "While growth in the private sector remains robust, the slower than programmed pace of public spending, particularly the decline in public construction, has slowed down the overall growth of the economy," Economic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan told reporters. "Exports were the other source of the …

  • EM ASIA FX-Won near 2-month low on plunging yen, peso pares gains as growth weakens

    * S.Korea intervention spotted, won hits 7-year high vs yen * Philippine peso briefly weaker after Q1 growth disappoints (Adds text, updates prices) By Jongwoo Cheon SEOUL, May 28 (Reuters) - South Korea's ... …

  • Britain's tied visa rules fuel abuse of live-in maids, nannies

    By Katie Nguyen LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - When Susi, a single mother from the Philippines, left for a job in Qatar, she convinced herself it was a sacrifice worth making for her children at home. For more than a year, Susi's sacrifice involved waking before dawn and working past midnight, cooking, cleaning and looking after a Qatari family. Conditions deteriorated when Susi was brought to Britain by her boss. …

  • SE Asia Stocks - Philippines at four-month low after Q1 GDP miss

    BANGKOK, May 28 (Reuters) - Philippine shares hit a more than four-month low on Thursday after economic growth in the first quarter was slower than expected, while Thai stocks retreated after disappointing ... …

  • Philippine economic growth slows to 5.2 percent in 1Q

    Sluggish government spending slowed Philippine economic growth in the first quarter of this year, officials said Thursday. The country's gross domestic product grew by 5.2 percent in the first quarter, ... …

  • PSE to sell Makati and Ortigas offices
    PSE to sell Makati and Ortigas offices

    Set to move to a unified headquarters in Bonifacio Global City in 2016, the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE) has issued plans to sell their offices in Makati and Ortigas. PSE President Hans Sicat issued that PSE means to sell the offices, but that they may also opt to rent them out instead. …

  • ‘Inland areas could be exposed to tsunami-like waves’
    ‘Inland areas could be exposed to tsunami-like waves’

    While strong earthquakes cause tsunamis in coastal areas, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) warned that inland areas could also be exposed to tsunami-like waves, or seiche, if located near or around bodies of water. In a recent earthquake awareness seminar in Muntinlupa, Phivolcs supervising science research specialist Joan Salcedo explained that a seiche is a large wave similar to a tsunami, triggered by strong ground shaking from an earthquake or volcanic …

  • China gives ‘gentle reminder’ to Phl, warns small nations
    China gives ‘gentle reminder’ to Phl, warns small nations

    China gave the Philippines a “gentle reminder” last Tuesday that Beijing will not bully small countries but warned these nations not to make trouble willfully and endlessly. “Here is a gentle reminder to the Philippines: China will not bully small countries, meanwhile, small countries shall not make trouble willfully and endlessly. The Chinese Foreign Ministry also said that China would continue to build other civilian facilities on relevant maritime features in the disputed Spratly Islands …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options