The discovery of a remarkable 15-million-year-old Australian fossil limestone cave packed with even older animal bones has revealed almost the entire life cycle of a large prehistoric marsupial.
In an unprecedented find, a team of UNSW researchers has unearthed from the cave floor hundreds of beautifully preserved fossils of the extinct browsing wombat-like marsupial Nimbadon lavarackorum, along with the remains of galloping kangaroos, primitive bandicoots, a fox-sized thylacine and forest bats.
Details of the find at a site known as AL90 in the famous Riversleigh World Heritage fossil field in Queensland are published in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, by a team led by Dr Karen Black, of the UNSW School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences. The research was supported by the Xstrata Community Partnership Program North Queensland and the Australian Research Council.
"This is a fantastic and incredibly rare site," says Dr Black. "The exceptional preservation of the fossils has allowed us to piece together the growth and development of Nimbadon from baby to adult. So far 26 skulls - ranging in age from suckling pouch young and juveniles right through to elderly adults - have been recovered, as well as associated skeletons."
Read more about the team's find at the Faculty of Science newsroom.
Media contact: Bob Beale| Faculty of Science | 0411 705 435