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RE: Purple Paleo Prose Down Under
Like almost any 'news story' relating to science, the purplitude of the
prose will be inversely proportional to the accuracy of the report, and - as
could have been predicted - the illustration may tend to add to any
confusion created by the text.
In this case, the skull in the photo is *Ekaltadeta ima* (Macropodoidea,
Hypsiprymnodontidae, Propleopinae) which is roughly a giant late Oligocene
to Miocene version of the smallest extant kangaroo species, *Hypsiprymnodon
moschatus*. The latter has relatively primitive hind feet, does not hop
bipedally, and is largely insectivorous/carnivorous. Hence the argument for
*Ekaltadeta* and other large extinct propleopines (also) being carnivorous,
taking proportionately larger prey, does not represent an extraordinary
extrapolation. The procumbent lower incisors of many diprotodont marsupials
make excellent stabbing weapons, and the somewhat enlarged and
'plagiaulacoid' premolars would cut flesh very nicely, as similar ones do in
omnivorous phalangerids (species of cuscus and brushtail possum). The
molars have somewhat longitudinal blades and are small and low-crowned
relative to other roos.
The kangaroo with long canines is on a different lineage altogether,
Balbaridae (and actually named *Balbaroo fangaroo*), and was probably a
more-or-less exclusive browser. The 'fangs' have been suggested to be for
display, and compared with similar male ornament in musk deer.
As for the dinosaurs in the picture (i.e. the dromornithid birds), the idea
that they were carnivorous is not taken very seriously by many folks; Steve
Wroe, who came up with it (and blames Walter Boles for coining 'Demon Duck
of Doom'), says he's not at all committed to the idea. Certainly no-one
Dr John D. Scanlon
Riversleigh Fossil Centre, Outback at Isa
19 Marian Street / PO Box 1094
Mount Isa QLD 4825
Ph: 07 4749 1555
Fax: 07 4743 6296
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Mark Hallett [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
> Sent: Friday, July 14, 2006 4:15 AM
> To: email@example.com
> Cc: firstname.lastname@example.org
> Subject: Purple Paleo Prose Down Under
> Depending on what the article mean't by "well
> muscled-in teeth" and their actual morphology,
> "slicing crests" on molars aren't necessarily an
> indication of carnivory, since this is the condition
> found in many bovid molars like those of goats and
> deer. It doesn't mean they couldn't have sliced flesh,
> but they're nothing like what you find in Thylacoleo
> and other presumed marsupial carnivores. The skull
> shown in the photo also didn't have "wolf-like fangs",
> just a greatly extended lower incisor(s) that could
> have served to scrape on bark or other plant
> materials. To seize prey orally you need teeth that
> aren't just pointed but also more or less
> perpendicular to the axes of the u. and l. jaw. The
> news article also makes the assumption that
> quadrupedalism equals predation; why wouldn't a
> leaping macropodid with well developed foreclaws be
> just as effective, if not more so, in chasing down
> fast-moving prey moving the same way? The DDD sounds
> pretty intriguing-- I've known some pretty nasty (and
> carnivorous) Muscovy Ducks these might have been
> convergent on....
> Mark Hallett
> --- Allan Edels <email@example.com> wrote:
> > >From Yahoo:
> > Killer kangaroo, demon duck of doom roamed Outback
> > Wed Jul 12, 3:15 AM ET
> > SYDNEY (Reuters) - Forget cute, cuddly marsupials. A
> > team of Australian
> > paleontologists say they have found the fossilized
> > remains of a fanged
> > killer kangaroo and what they describe as a "demon
> > duck of doom."
> > A University of New South Wales team said the
> > fearsome fossils were among 20
> > previously unknown species uncovered at a site in
> > northwest Queensland
> > state.
> > Professor Michael Archer said on Wednesday the
> > remains of a meat-eating
> > kangaroo with wolf-like fangs were found as well as
> > a galloping kangaroo
> > with long forearms that could not hop like a modern
> > kangaroo.
> > "Because they didn't hop, these were galloping
> > kangaroos, with big, powerful
> > forelimbs. Some of them had long canines (fangs)
> > like wolves," Archer told
> > Australian Broadcasting Corp radio.
> > Vertebrate paleontologist Sue Hand said modern
> > kangaroos look almost nothing
> > like their ferocious forebears, which lived between
> > 10 million and 20
> > million years ago.
> > The species found at the dig had "well muscled-in
> > teeth, not for grazing.
> > These things had slicing crests that could have
> > crunched through bone and
> > sliced off flesh," Hand said.
> > The team also found prehistoric lungfish and large
> > duck-like birds.
> > "Very big birds ... more like ducks, earned the name
> > 'demon duck of doom',
> > some at least may have been carnivorous as well,"
> > Hand told ABC radio.
> > Archer said the team was studying the fossils to
> > better understand how they
> > were affected by changing climates in the Miocene
> > epoch between 5 million
> > and 24 million years ago.
> > ================================================
> > Since this concerns birds (carnivorous at that),
> > I've made the dinosaur
> > connection for this post! :-)
> > The accompanying photo shows the skull of the Roo -
> > and states that they are
> > from 23-29 mya.
> > Allan Edels
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