Thursday, July 23, 2009

Galloping Kangaroos!

An article in the Sydney Morning Herald has shed light on a study examining the evolution of kangaroos in Australia. Apparently, kangaroos roaming the landscape 25 million years ago had shorter legs, galloped around and had long fangs:
The near-complete skeleton represents a species called Nambaroo gillespieae, one of the earliest known predecessors to the modern roo.

The La Trobe University palaeontologist Ben Kear, part of an Australian team that analysed the bones, said the Nambaroo had big, muscly forearms that showed it galloped or bounded like a brushtail possum.

The ancient kangaroo also had opposable big-toes and flexible feet, a sign it had some climbing ability, like today's tree kangaroos. It lived in a dense, forest environment, which suggests a diet of fruit and fungi.

This form appears to be at the beginning of the radiation of the different kangaroo forms present recently and today.

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