Sunday, 9 October 2016

Gumardee richi & Gumardee springae: Two new species of Potoroos from the Oligo-Miocene of Queensland.

Potoroos, Potoroidae, are Rabbit-sized members of the Macropodiformes, the group which also includes Kangaroos and Wallabies. They are essentially similar to Kangaroos in appearance, but smaller and have simpler dentition, leading to suggestions that they might be ancestral to the larger Macropodiformes. The groups includes four species of Recent Potaroos, one of which become extinct in the nineteenth century, six species of recent Bettongs, two of which are now extinct, two species of Rat Kangaroo, one of which became extinct in the twentieth century, as well as a number of fossil forms, dating back as far as the Oligocene.

In a paper published in the Memoirs of Museum Victoria on 22 July 2016, Kenny Travouillon of the Western Australian Museum and the School of Earth Sciences at the University of Queensland, Kaylene Butler, also of the School of Earth Sciences at the University of Queensland, and Michael Archer and Suzanne Hand of the PANGEA Research Centre at the University of New South Wales, describe two new species of Potoroo from the late Oligocene to early Miocene deposits of the Riversleigh World Heritage Area in northwestern Queensland, Australia. Both species are placed in the genus Gumardee, which previously contained one species, Gumardee pascuali, also from the Riversleigh World Heritage deposits, and some loose teeth assigned only to genus level from the Namba Formation of Lake Pinpa, South Australia.

The first new species is named Gumardee richi, in honour of Thomas Rich of Museum Victoria, for his long and significant contribution to Australian palaeontology. The species is described from a partial left juvenile maxilla, a left juvenile dentary, a partial juvenile right dentary, a left maxilla and two further left dentaries. These were located at two sites, Dirk’s Towers and Quantum Leap, both of which are interpreted as being Early Miocene in age.

Gumardee richi, first specimen, partial left juvenile maxilla with P3 in crypt, dP2-3 and M1-2: (A) buccal, (B) lingual, and (C) occlusal (stereopair) views; second specimen, left maxilla with M1-4: (D) buccal, (E) lingual, and (F) occlusal (stereopair) views. Scale bar equals 10 mm. Travouillon et al. (2016).

The second new species is named Gumardee springae, in honour of Kirsten Spring of the Geosciences Program at the Queensland Museum, in recognition of her skilled and careful management of the large and diverse Riversleigh fossil collections. This species is described from two partial juvenile skulls, one with an associated left maxilla, as well as a large number of jaw fragments. All of these came from the White Hunter Site, which is interpretted as being Late Oligocene in age.

Gumardee springae, first specimen, partial juvenile skull with left loose P2, dP3, left and right P3 in crypt, M1-3 and associated left maxilla with dP3, P3 in crypt, M1-3: (A) dorsal, and (B) ventral views. Scale bar equals 10 mm. Travouillon et al. (2016).

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