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PLoS One. 2014 Nov 19;9(11):e112705. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0112705. eCollection 2014.

A new species of the basal "kangaroo" Balbaroo and a re-evaluation of stem macropodiform interrelationships.

Author information

1
School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia.
2
School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia; School of Earth Sciences, University of Queensland, St Lucia, Australia.
3
Palaeobiology Programme, Department of Earth Sciences, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden.
4
Queensland Museum, South Brisbane, Australia.

Abstract

Exceptionally well-preserved skulls and postcranial elements of a new species of the plesiomorphic stem macropodiform Balbaroo have been recovered from middle Miocene freshwater limestone deposits in the Riversleigh World Heritage Area of northwestern Queensland, Australia. This constitutes the richest intraspecific sample for any currently known basal "kangaroo", and, along with additional material referred to Balbaroo fangaroo, provides new insights into structural variability within the most prolific archaic macropodiform clade--Balbaridae. Qualitative and metric evaluations of taxonomic boundaries demonstrate that the previously distinct species Nambaroo bullockensis is a junior synonym of B. camfieldensis. Furthermore, coupled Maximum Parsimony and Bayesian phylogenetic analyses reveal that our new Balbaroo remains represent the most derived member of the Balbaroo lineage, and are closely related to the middle Miocene B. camfieldensis, which like most named balbarid species is identifiable only from isolated jaws. The postcranial elements of Balbaroo concur with earlier finds of the stratigraphically oldest balbarid skeleton, Nambaroo gillespieae, and suggest that quadrupedal progression was a primary gait mode as opposed to bipedal saltation. All Balbaroo spp. have low-crowned bilophodont molars, which are typical for browsing herbivores inhabiting the densely forested environments envisaged for middle Miocene northeastern Australia.

PMID:
25409233
PMCID:
PMC4237356
DOI:
10.1371/journal.pone.0112705
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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