Wednesday, November 6, 2013

[PaleoMammalogy • 2013] Obdurodon tharalkooschild • A New, Giant Platypus (Monotremata, Ornithorhynchidae) from the Riversleigh World Heritage Area, Australia

Obdurodon tharalkooschild, a middle to late Cenozoic giant toothed platypus from the the World Heritage fossil deposits of Riversleigh, Australia. At about one meter (more than 3 feet) in length and with powerful teeth (inset: the holotype, a first lower molar), it would have been capable of killing much larger prey, such as lungfish and even small turtles, than its much smaller living relative.
 Illustration: Peter Schouten.

Fossil of Largest Known Platypus Discovered in Australia
  — No living mammal is more peculiar than the platypus. It has a broad, duck-like bill, thick, otter-like fur, and webbed, beaver-like feet. The platypus lays eggs rather than gives birth to live young, its snout is covered with electroreceptors that detect underwater prey, and male platypuses have a venomous spur on their hind foot. Until recently, the fossil record indicated that the platypus lineage was unique, with only one species inhabiting Earth at any one time. This picture has changed with the publication of a new study in the latest issue of the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology that describes a new, giant species of extinct platypus that was a side-branch of the platypus family tree.


Giant turtle-devouring duck-billed platypus discovered

Pian, R., M. Archer, and S.J. Hand. 2013. A New, Giant Platypus, Obdurodon tharalkooschild, sp. nov. (Monotremata, Ornithorhynchidae), from the Riversleigh World Heritage Area, Australia. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology. 33(6):1-5.