Australia: The Land Where Time Began

A biography of the Australian continent 


These are the dominant native mammalian carnivores in present-day Australia. They range in size from the Long-Tailed Planigales, weighing just 4 gm, to the Tasmanian Devil, weighing 8 kg. 63 of the known 87 species of dasyurid are still extant, ranging across Australia and New Guinea. The most 'primitive' species, such as murexia, are found in rainforests, the more derived forms, such as dasyuroides species, being found in the arid areas, no doubt becoming 'derived' to survive in Australia's changing climate as the continent dried out.

In the fossil record, most of the known extinct dasyurid groups are not thought to be closely related to any living dasyurids. Ankotarinja tirarensis is the most distinctive known fossil dasyurid. It has been found in the Ditjimanka Local Fauna from Oligocene-Miocene deposits at Lake Palankarinna, South Australia.

Modern genera, Planigale and (possibly) Antechinus, appeared in the fossil record in the Early Pliocene, about 4.5 million years ago.

Riversleigh Dasyurids

Sources & Further reading

  1. Tyndale-Biscoe, Hugh, 2005, Life of Marsupials, CSIRO Publishing.
  2. Chris Johnson, Australia's Mammal Extinctions, a 50,000 year history, Cambridge University Press, 2006
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                                                                                           Author: M.H.Monroe  Email:     Sources & Further reading