Australian Mammalogy Australian Mammalogy Society
Journal of the Australian Mammal Society
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Two new species of Antechinus Macleay (Dasyuridae : Marsupialia) from mid-Pleistocene cave deposits in eastern central Queensland

Jonathan Cramb A C and Scott Hocknull B

A Queensland University of Technology, GPO Box 2434, Brisbane, Qld 4001, Australia.

B Geosciences, Queensland Museum, Brisbane, Qld 4000, Australia.

C Corresponding author. Email: j2.cramb@student.qut.edu.au

Australian Mammalogy 32(2) 127-144 https://doi.org/10.1071/AM09025
Submitted: 10 October 2009  Accepted: 1 April 2010   Published: 5 August 2010

Abstract

The dasyurid genus Antechinus occurs in numerous Cainozoic fossil sites but until now only one extinct species has been described, Antechinus puteus Van Dyck. Antechinus yammal sp. nov. and A. yuna sp. nov. are described here on the basis of dental remains recovered from middle Pleistocene (between >500 and 205–170 thousand years ago) cave deposits at Mount Etna, eastern central Queensland. Most of these sites are interpreted as closed rainforest palaeoenvironments, and this is the likely habitat of both species.

Both taxa are morphologically variable. A. yammal is characterised by complete anterior cingula and well developed posterior cingula on the upper molars; a relatively unreduced, robust P3; and small entoconids. A. yuna is a relatively large species, typified by poorly developed or absent posterior cingula on M1–3, lack of a metacone on M4, and large entoconids on M1–3. Dental morphology suggests that A. yuna was a near relative of the extant A. leo. The dentition of A. yammal shows some similarities to that of A. flavipes, but its exact phylogenetic position is unclear. A. yammal became extinct coincident with the loss of its rainforest habitat some time between 280 and 205–170 thousand years ago. A. yuna survived somewhat longer, but by the late Pleistocene had been replaced by A. flavipes.

Additional keywords: Antechinus yammal, Antechinus yuna, dasyurid, Mount Etna, Pleistocene


Acknowledgements

The authors thank Gregory E. Webb for comments on the manuscript, Heather Janetzki, Steve Van Dyck and Sandy Ingleby for access to comparative material and the staff and volunteers at the Queensland Museum Geosciences Laboratory who assisted with sample preparation. Work at Mt Etna has been assisted by Cement Australia, the Sands family, the Central Queensland Speleological Society, Capricorn Caves, and Rockhampton Regional Development. Special thanks to two anonymous reviewers, whose comments greatly improved the quality of the paper. Research was funded by Australian Research Council grants LP0453664 and ARC LP0989969.


References

Aplin K. P. , and Archer M. (1987). Recent advances in marsupial systematics, with a new, higher level classification of the Marsupialia. In ‘Possums and Opossums: Studies in Evolution’. (Ed. M. Archer.) pp. xv–lxxii. (Royal Zoological Society of New South Wales & Surrey Beatty: Sydney.)

Archer, M. (1981). Results of the Archbold Expedition; No. 104, Systematic revision of the marsupial dasyurid genus Sminthopsis Thomas. Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History 168, 63–223.


Archer M. (1982). Review of the dasyurid (Marsupialia) fossil record, integration of data bearing on phylogenetic interpretation, and suprageneric classification. In ‘Carnivorous Marsupials’. (Ed. M. Archer.) pp. 397–443. (Royal Zoological Society of New South Wales: Sydney.)

Benton, M. J. , and Pearson, P. N. (2001). Speciation in the fossil record. Trends in Ecology & Evolution 16, 405–411.
CrossRef |

Cramb, J. , Hocknull, S. , and Webb, G. E. (2009). High diversity Pleistocene rainforest dasyurid assemblages with implications for the radiation of the Dasyuridae. Austral Ecology 34, 663–669.
CrossRef |

Crowther, M. S. (2002). Morphological variation within Antechinus agilis and Antechinus stuartii (Marsupialia: Dasyuridae). Australian Journal of Zoology 50, 339–356.
CrossRef |

Cuvier G. (1817). ‘La Règne Animal Distribué d’Après Son Organization, Pour Servir de Base à l’Histoire Naturelle des Animaux et d’Introduction à l’Anatomie Comparée.’ (Carpenter and Westwood: London.)

Dawson, L. , Muirhead, J. , and Wroe, S. (1999). The Big Sink Local Fauna: a lower Pliocene mammalian fauna from the Wellington Caves complex, Wellington, New South Wales. Records of the Western Australian Museum Supplementary Series 57, 265–290.


Dayan, T. , Wool, D. , and Simberloff, D. (2002). Variation and covariation of skulls and teeth: modern carnivores and the interpretation of fossil mammals. Paleobiology 28, 508–526.
CrossRef |

Dickman, C. R. (1986a). An experimental manipulation of the intensity of interspecific competition: effects on a small marsupial. Oecologia 70, 536–543.[Berlin]
CrossRef |

Dickman, C. R. (1986b). A experimental study of competition between two species of dasyurid marsupials. Ecological Monographs 56, 221–241.
CrossRef |

Dickman, C. R. (1986c). Niche compression: two tests of an hypothesis using narrowly sympatric predator species. Australian Journal of Ecology 11, 121–134.
CrossRef |

Dickman, C. R. , Parnaby, H. E. , Crowther, M. S. , and King, D. H. (1998). Antechinus agilis (Marsupialia: Dasyuridae), a new species from the A. stuartii complex in south-eastern Australia. Australian Journal of Zoology 46, 1–26.
CrossRef |

Fraser, R. , and Wells, R. T. (2006). The palaeontological excavation and taphonomic investigation of the late Pleistocene fossil deposit in Grant Hall, Naracoorte, South Australia. Alcheringa Special Issue 1, 147–161.


Geoffroy (Saint-Hilaire), É. (1803). Note sur les espèces du genre dasyure. Bulletin de le Scientifique Socie’te’ de Philomathematique du Paris 3, 258–259.


Gill, T. (1872). Arrangement of the families of mammals with analytical tables. Smithsonian Miscellaneous Collections 2, 1–98.


Gingerich, P. D. (1974). Size variability of the teeth in living mammals and the diagnosis of closely related sympatric fossil species. Journal of Paleontology 48, 895–903.


Goldfuss G. A. (1820). ‘Handbuch der Zoologie.’ (J. L. Schrag: Nürmberg.)

Hall, S. (1980). The diets of two coexisting species of Antechinus (Marsupialia: Dasyuridae). Australian Wildlife Research 7, 365–378.
CrossRef |

Hocknull, S. A. (2005a). Ecological succession during the late Cainozoic of central eastern Queensland; extinction of a diverse rainforest community. Memoirs of the Queensland Museum 51, 39–122.


Hocknull, S. A. (2005b). Late Pleistocene–Holocene occurrence of Chaeropus (Peramelidae) and Macrotis (Thylacomyidae) from Queensland. Memoirs of the Queensland Museum 51, 38.


Hocknull, S. A. , Zhao, J.-X. , Feng, Y.-X. , and Webb, G. E. (2007). Responses of Quaternary rainforest vertebrates to climate change in Australia. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 264, 317–331.
CrossRef |

Hope, G. , Kershaw, A. P. , Van Der Kaars, S. , Xiangjun, S. , Liew, P.-M. , Heusser, L. E. , Takahara, H. , Mcglone, M. , Miyoshi, N. , and Moss, P. T. (2004). History of vegetation and habitat change in the Austral-Asian region. Quaternary International 118–119, 103–126.
CrossRef |

Illiger J. C. W. (1811). ‘Prodromus systematis mammalium et avium additis terminis zoographicis utriusque classis, eorumque versione germanica.’ (Sumptibus C. Salfeld: Berolini.)

Krajewski, C. , Torunsky, R. , Sipiorski, J. T. , and Westerman, M. (2007). Phylogenetic relationships of the dasyurid marsupial genus Murexia. Journal of Mammalogy 88, 696–705.
CrossRef |

Lenz H. O. (1831). ‘Naturgeschichte der Säugethiere, nach Cuvier’s Systemé bearbeitet.’ (Bedersche Buchhandlung: Gotha.)

Luckett P. W. (1993). An ontogenetic assessment of dental homologies in therian mammals. In ‘Mammal Phylogeny: Mesozoic Differentiation, Multituberculates, Monotremes, Early Therians and Marsupials’. (Eds F. S. Szalay, M. J. Novacek and M. C. McKenna.) pp. 182–284. (Springer-Verlag: New York.)

Lundelius, E. L. J. , and Turnbull, W. D. (1978). The mammalian fauna of Madura Cave, Western Australia. Part III. Fieldiana: Geology 38, 1–120.


Macleay, W. S. (1841). Notice of a new genus of Mammalia discovered by J. Stuart, Esq., in New South Wales. The Annals and Magazine of Natural History 8, 241–243.


Miller, W. (2001). The structure of species, outcomes of speciation and the ‘species problem’: ideas for paleobiology. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 176, 1–10.
CrossRef |

Moriarty, K. C. , McCulloch, M. T. , Wells, R. T. , and McDowell, M. C. (2000). Mid-Pleistocene cave fills, megafaunal remains and climate change at Naracoorte, South Australia: towards a predictive model using U-Th dating of speleothems. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 159, 113–143.
CrossRef |

Muirhead, J. , and Godthelp, H. (1996). Fossil bandicoots of Chillagoe (north-eastern Queensland) and then first known specimens of the pig-footed bandicoot Chaeropus Ogilby, 1838 from Queensland. Australian Mammalogy 19, 73–76.


Price, G. J. (2004). Fossil bandicoots (Marsupialia, Peramelidae) and environmental change during the Pleistocene on the Darling Downs, southeastern Queensland, Australia. Journal of Systematic Palaeontology 2, 347–356.
CrossRef |

Price, G. J. (2008). Taxonomy and palaeobiology of the largest-ever marsupial, Diprotodon Owen, 1838 (Diprotodontidae, Marsupialia). Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society 153, 369–397.
CrossRef |

Price, G. J. , and Sobbe, I. H. (2005). Pleistocene palaeoecology and environmental change on the Darling Downs, southeastern Queensland, Australia. Memoirs of the Queensland Museum 51, 171–201.


Price, G. J. , Zhao, J.-X. , Feng, Y.-X. , and Hocknull, S. A. (2009). New U/Th ages for Pleistocene megafauna deposits of southeastern Queensland, Australia. Journal of Asian Earth Sciences 34, 190–197.
CrossRef |

Rich T. H. (1991). Monotremes, placentals and marsupials: their record in Australia and its biases. In ‘Vertebrate Palaeontology of Australasia’. (Eds P. Vickers-Rich, J. M. Monaghan, R. F. Baird and T. H. Rich.) pp. 893–1070. (Pioneer Design Studio: Lilydale, Victoria.)

Simpson, G. G. (1930). Post-Mesozoic Marsupialia. Fossilium catalogus Animalia 1, 1–87.


Szalay F. S. (1982). A new appraisal of marsupial phylogeny and classification. In ‘Carnivorous Marsupials’. (Ed. M. Archer.) pp. 621–640. (Royal Zoological Society of New South Wales: Sydney.)

Temminck C. J. (1824). Sur le genre SarigueDidelphis (Linn.). In ‘Monographies de Mammalogie, ou description de quelques genres de mammifères, dont les espèces ont été observées dans les différens musées de l’Europe’. (Ed. C. J. Temminck.) pp. 21–54. (G. Dufour & E. D’Ocagne: Paris.)

Thomas, O. (1904). On a collection of mammals made by Mr J. T. Tunney in Arnhem Land, Northern Territory of South Australia. Novitates zoologicae 11, 222–229.


Thomas, O. (1923). The Godman Exploration Fund: list of mammals from north Queensland collected by Mr T. V. Sherrin. The Annals and Magazine of Natural History 9, 170–178.


Turnbull, W. D. , Lundelius, E. L. , and Archer, M. (2003). Dasyurids, perameloids, phalangeroids, and vombatoids from the Early Pliocene Hamilton Fauna, Victoria, Australia. Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History 279, 513–540.
CrossRef |

Van Dyck, S. M. (1980). The cinnamon antechinus, Antechinus leo (Marsupialia: Dasyuridae), a new species from the vine-forests of Cape York Peninsula. Australian Mammalogy 3, 5–17.


Van Dyck, S. (1982). Antechinus puteus (Marsupialia, Dasyuridae), a new fossil species from the Texas Caves, southeastern Queensland. Australian Mammalogy 5, 59–68.


Van Dyck, S. (2002). Morphology-based revision of Murexia and Antechinus (Marsupialia: Dasyuridae). Memoirs of the Queensland Museum 48, 239–330.


Van Dyck, S. , and Crowther, M. S. (2000). Reassessment of northern representatives of the Antechinus stuartii complex (Marsupialia: Dasyuridae): A. subtropicus sp. nov. and A. adustus new status. Memoirs of the Queensland Museum 45, 611–635.


Waterhouse, G. R. (1838). Characters of some new species of the genera Mus and Phascogale. Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London 1837, 75–77.


Waterhouse, G. R. (1840). Description of a new marsupial mammal, belonging to the genus Phascogale. Magazine of Natural History 4, 299–301.


Wroe, S. (1999). The geologically oldest dasyurid, from the Miocene of Riversleigh, north-west Queensland. Palaeontology 42, 501–527.
CrossRef |





Appendix 1.  Registered specimens of Antechinus yammal
TA1



Appendix 2.  Registered specimens of A. yuna
TA2



Export Citation Cited By (3)