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A New Marsupial from the Early Eocene Tingamarra Local Fauna of Murgon, Southeastern Queensland: A Prototypical Australian Marsupial?

Abstract

Djarthia murgonensis, a new genus and species of marsupial from the early Eocene Tingamarra Local Fauna of Murgon in southeastern Queensland, is described on the basis of dental material. The combination of marsupial synapomorphies and symplesiomorphies present in D. murgonensis suggests phylogenetic placement within either Didelphidae or Australidelphia. Tarsal morphology, fundamental to the concepts of Ameridelphia and Australidelphia respectively, is not yet known for this taxon. Consequently, it cannot be assigned to either clade with confidence. If this taxon is australidelphian, it constitutes support for the hypothesis that the common ancestor of the Australian marsupial radiation was didelphoid-like in dental features. Some previous authors have contended that marsupial faunas of South America and Australia are manifestly distinct, excepting for the australidelphian affinity of South American microbiotheres. However, because tarsal anatomy is unknown in some generalized Australian fossil taxa, including D. murgonensis, and character analysis reveals that no synapomorphies of the dentition unequivocally define either Ameridelphia or Australidelphia to the exclusion of the other, we consider this interpretation to be premature. In short, available evidence neither supports nor refutes the argument of distinct South American and Australasian marsupial faunas. A further ramification is the need to reconsider the phylogenetic position of Ankotarinja tirarensis and Keeuna woodburnei. These central Australian fossil taxa might be referred to either Australidelphia or Ameridelphia, and it is recommended that both be treated as Marsupialia incertae sedis until further material comes to light.

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Godthelp, H., Wroe, S. & Archer, M. A New Marsupial from the Early Eocene Tingamarra Local Fauna of Murgon, Southeastern Queensland: A Prototypical Australian Marsupial?. Journal of Mammalian Evolution 6, 289–313 (1999). https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1020517808869

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1020517808869

  • Djarthia murgonensis
  • Eocene
  • marsupial
  • Tingamarra
  • Australia