The great, great, great, great grandfather of modern kangaroos didnt hop

December 6th, 2007 - 3:21 pm ICT by admin  

London, Dec 6 (ANI): Kangaroos were not hopping creatures always, for a 25 million-year-old fossil has revealed that one of the earliest kangaroos did not hop on its hind feet like its modern relatives, but galloped across the land on all fours.

The skeleton, dug up in northern Queensland in 1997, also showed that this ancient kangaroo, which was about the size of a small dog, had canine fangs that were possibly used to fend off competitors or attract mates.

The near-complete skeleton represents a new species called Nambaroo gillespieae , one of the earliest known predecessors to the modern animal.

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

He added that the prehistoric kangaroo also had opposable big-toes and flexible feet, indicating that it had some climbing skills, like today’s tree kangaroos.

Nambaroo lived in a dense, forest environment, which suggests a diet of fruit and fungi.

“This is really the great, great, great, great grandfather of modern kangaroos,” The Age quoted Dr Kear, as saying.

“You’ve got this primitive kangaroo, imagine it’s climbing low branches, bounding around the forest floor, eating fungi, eating fallen fruit. It’s very different to what we would imagine from your average kangaroo… that you see today, he added.

Dr Kear further explained that the nambaroo skeleton would facilitate scientists learn more about how climate change had an effect on the evolution of kangaroos over millions of years.

“Looking at a skeleton like this is the Rosetta Stone, it’s the quintessential fossil that will give you the beginning of the whole kangaroo radiation,” Dr Kear said.

The findings are published in the latest issue of the Journal of Paleontology. (ANI)

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