An exciting discovery, made nearly 400 kilometres by road north of Mount Isa, Queensland, has added a new leaf to the Macropod family tree.

Western Australian Museum Mammal Curator Dr Kenny Travouillon, with Professor Mike Archer, Dr Bernard Cooke and Associate Professor Suzanne Hand, have worked together to compile a paper which aims to describe this new discovery – fossil fragments of the ancient Ganguroo robustiter.

Ganguroo robustiter, meaning ‘the robust grandfather kangaroo’, is probably a direct ancestor of modern kangaroo and wallaby species, according to Dr Travouillon.

14 million years ago this species roamed Australia, during a time when vast expanses of rainforest covered the now arid continent. The myriad species of kangaroo and wallaby we know today are anatomically quite different from G. robustiter due to these changing environmental pressures.

One of the most predominant changes concerns mobility. Whilst G. robustiter could hop, its ability was feeble in comparison to the master macropods that call Australia home today.

G. robustiter, as the name suggests, was more robust than its predecessor Ganguroo bilamina, but it was still significantly smaller than many of today’s kangaroo and wallaby species.

The discovery of cranial and dental remains is the latest in a long string of G. robustiter fossil fragments found at RWHA. Professor Mike Archer has returned to RWHA almost every year since the 1970s, and during that time contributed to over 100 G. robustiter specimens. This new discovery has finally provided the crucial missing link, and has enabled the definition of a new species.

Find Out More

To find out more about G. robustiter, see News.

The publication on Ganguroo robustiter can be viewed at Journal of Vertebrate Palaeontology Volume 35 Issue 4, 2015