‘Echidnapus’: Australian scientists discover ancient monotreme

'Echidnapus': Australian scientists discover ancient monotreme

Scientists have discovered an odd-looking thing known as the “echidnapus,” which they believe lived in Australia during ancient days.

In northeastern New South Wales, fossilized jaw bones were discovered, along with evidence from a number of other historic and now dead monotreme species, in addition to fossilized fragments.

Officially named Opalios splendens, the new species has been nicknamed for its resemblance to the platypus and echidna – which are the only egg-laying mammals in the world today.

The research team claims that it hints that Australia once had an “age of monotremes”- in which the very unique order of animals was prevalent and abundant.

” It’s like discovering a whole new civilisation”, lead author Professor Tim Flannery said.

Palaeontologist Elizabeth Smith and her child Clytie discovered the collection of specimens about 25 years ago while they were sorting through the trash from an opal me.

The sample, which are thought to be around 100 million years old, were kept in a cupboard until about two years ago when they were finally discovered.

Prof Flannery, a mammalogist, says he stumbled across them and soon knew they were from old tetrapods.

Some of the bones belonged to the already-discovered Steropodon galmani, a shorter, stumpier and toothier ancestor of the platypus.

But the other fragments were unfamiliar. From them, Dr Flannery and his team discovered evidence of three species previously unknown to science, findings which were published in Alcheringa: An Australasian Journal of Palaeontology on Monday.

The insects had previously unreleased features, including those found in life or fossil monotremes, according to Professor Kris Helgen, director of the Australian Museum Research Institute, who also contributed to the paper.

“[The Opalios splendens’s] overall anatomy is probably quite like the platypus, but with features of the jaw and snout a bit more like an echidna,” Prof Helgen said.

All amber specimens are rare- mammal people even more so- but these sample are” a revelation”, says Ms Smith.

Six mammal species are known to have once lived at Lightning Ridge, which was in antiquity a warm, moist woodland bordering a great inland lake.

” They show the world that extended before Australia became the property of pouched animals, marsupials, this was a property of shaggy ovum- layers- monotremes”, Ms Smith says.

” It seems that 100 million years ago, there were more marsupials at Lightning Ridge than anywhere else on earth, past or present”.

Other experts believe that more research is required to determine whether Australia after hosted a large number of monotremes.

According to Flinders University catch Rod Wells,” It may have been at least as varied as the early American kangaroo fauna,” it may have been at least as varied as the early American marsupial fauna.

The study’s authors hope that their report will encourage more money for more specific digs in the area to back up their research.