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Re: CRETACEOUS VARANIDS



>First off, amusing names.. the Aussie snake _Montypythonoides_. I
>don't have the literature with me, but I recall that this one is now
>thought to be a synonym of _Wonambi naracoortensis_ (am I right
>Paul?).

No (you must be getting rusty after your recent absence!). It's been
synonomised with Liasis, the olive pythons.

>Australia's giant Cenozoic reptiles (and super-abundant carpet
>pythons: more of them per area than any other terrestrial vertebrate
>carnivore apparently*) are probably something to do with Australian
>low biomass.. or so the story goes (Downund escaped Pleistocene
>glaciation, got no fertile soils, got comparatively few herbivores,
>got virtually no mammalian carnivores). This theory, nice as it is,
>has been invalidated by the large number of Australian marsupial
>carnivores described in recent years: new dasyuromorphs, carnivorous
>macropodids and thylacoleonids a-plenty.

Not quite so simple. Add to our depauparate fauna the fact that we haven't
had a good orogeny for over 200 million years and there just isn't the
rocks availabel to be turned into soil. Tim Flannery gives a good account
of this in his book The Future Eaters. And while we have had sseveral new
marsupicarnivores described in recent years, most of them are from
Oligo-Miocene deposits representing rainforests and all are reasonable
small (under 20kg). Even these environments are ruled by crocs and snakes
as the top predators (strangely no varanids in the Oligo-Miocene).

And on a completely unrelated topic, all of those who think I'm a wanker
will be please to know that your suspicions have been confirmed recently
when I received "DR CROC" numberplates for my car.

Cheers,

Paul


Dr Paul M.A. Willis
Consulting Vertebrate Palaeontologist
Quinkana Pty Ltd
pwillis@ozemail.com.au