Australia: The Land Where Time Began

A biography of the Australian continent 

Riversleigh Notoryctids - Notoryctes typhlops, the marsupial mole

The marsupial mole has its own family, Notoryctidae,  and order Notoryctemorphia, because it was very specialised. The teeth found at Riversleigh show how the teeth of the living marsupial mole evolved. In those of the Riversleigh specimens from the Oligocene-Miocene the teeth showed that it was not as highly specialised as its living relative, the upper molars found having very reduced paracones. For the first time it was known that the specialised teeth of the living species had evolved by the reduction of the paracone.

The modern marsupial mole lives only in the central Australian deserts, burrowing through the comparatively loose sandy soil. The Riversleigh species obviously lived in a rainforest during the Oligocene-Miocene, a very different situation, the forest floor being thick with roots, and presumably like most Australian rainforests, a thin humus layer over a more solid layer such as clay.

It is uncertain just how the mole lived in the soil of the rainforest. It has been suggested that it used its flattened forelimbs for swimming. Some placental moles from Africa burrow in swamps and rainforests. Some of the New Guinea rainforests grow on thick layers of moss and roots. The floor of these forests are home to a number of animals. It is possible the forest floor of the Riversleigh rainforest was similar to the kind found in New Guinea. The debate over the burrowing lifestyle of the Riversleigh marsupial mole is unresolved to date, but what is agreed upon is that lifestyle in the Oligocene-Miocene rainforests would have pre-adapted it for life in the spreading deserts of central Australia.

Sources & Further reading

Michael Archer, Suzanne J. Hand & Henk Godthelp, Australia's Lost World: Riversleigh, world heritage Site, Reed New Holland

Author: M. H. Monroe
Email:  admin@austhrutime.com
Last Updated 25/02/2011

 

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                                                                                           Author: M.H.Monroe  Email: admin@austhrutime.com     Sources & Further reading