Fossil of a Prehistoric Creature Dubbed "Echidnapus" Discovered in Australia
RU EN

Fossil of a Prehistoric Creature Dubbed "Echidnapus" Discovered in Australia

News  
06-03-2024
 

Paleontologists have unearthed fossils of a bizarre creature that they believe roamed Australia in prehistoric times. The fossilized fragments of the animal's jawbone were found in northern New South Wales alongside evidence of several other ancient and now extinct monotreme species.

The scientists have decided to name their find "echidnapus" (official name Opalios splendens) due to its resemblance to both the platypus and the echidna. And to this day, it is the only known egg-laying mammal in the world. According to the authors of the study, it serves as confirmation of the hypothesis that Australia was once an "era of monotremes" - when an incredibly rare species of animals was numerous and dominant. "It's like discovering a whole new civilization," said lead author Professor Tim Flannery.

The most amazing thing about this story is that the fossils were found 25 years ago by paleontologist Elizabeth Smith and her daughter Clytie while sorting through opal mine waste. The specimens, estimated to be around 100 million years old,were donated to the Australian Museum. There they lay forgotten in a desk drawer for a quarter of a century until Professor Flannery stumbled upon them by accident a couple of years ago.

Some of the bones belonged to the previously discovered Steropodon galmani, a shorter, blunt-snouted, and toothed ancestor of the platypus. But other fragments were unfamiliar. From them, Dr. Flannery and his team found evidence of three previously unknown monotreme species.

According to Professor Chris Helgen, Director of the Australian Museum Research Institute, these animals had a combination of features never before seen in either living or fossil monotremes. "Opalios splendens' general anatomy was probably like a platypus, but its jaws and snout were more like an echidna," he said.

The total number of monotreme species that inhabited Lightning Ridge, which in ancient times was a cold, wet forest bordering a vast inland sea, reaches six. "They show the world that long before Australia became a land of marsupial mammals, it was a land of furry egg-laying monotremes," Smith says. At the same time, scientists acknowledge that further research and excavations in the region are needed to provide more definitive answers to the many paleontological questions.

More
06-14-2024
Greece without the Acropolis: Heatwave Shuts Down Tourist Landmark
The scorching heatwave that has gripped Greece has left tourists without one of the country's most iconic landmarks: the Acropolis. Due to abnormally high temperatures, life in the country has come to a standstill
06-14-2024
New Photo Exhibitions Open at the Rosa Khutor Resort
The My Russia Ethnopark, located on an area of 3.3 hectares, presents the architecture, history, everyday life and cultural traditions of different peoples of our country
06-14-2024
Water Quality in the Ob River to Be Assessed During Scientific Expedition in Yamal
Scientists from Salekhard, Tyumen, and Barnaul will conduct the annual ecological monitoring of water quality in the Ob River
06-14-2024
"SenoFest" to Be Held in the Open-Air Museum "Malye Korely" in July
The ethno-jazz festival "SenoFest" will be held on July 13 and 14 at the open-air museum "Malye Korely" in the Arkhangelsk Region
06-14-2024
One of Vladivostok's Cleanest Beaches Opens to Tourists
The press service of the "Land of the Leopard" National Park reported that from June 15, tourists will be able to visit one of the cleanest and most picturesque beaches of Vladivostok, which is part of the Far Eastern Marine Reserve - Pogranichnaya Bay