The remains of a new species thought to have gone extinct long ago have been found in Australia.
It’s a remarkable discovery — the remains of a previously unknown marsupial has been found in Australia, and scientists are uncovering all sorts of fascinating details about this strange creature.
Paleontologists believe these animals, which are now extinct, lived 15 million years ago and lived on a diet of snails, according to a University of New South Wales statement.
Malleodectes mirabilis was certainly a strange creature, as many marsupial species often are. They had powerful premolar teeth that would have allowed them to crack open snail shells in the forest.
Although malleodectids teeth has been found before, this is the first time a well-preserved fossil has been found. The skull was found in northwestern Queensland in a limestone cave deposit, dating it back 15 million years. Scientists think this animal, along with many others, fell to their deaths in the pit, leading to a treasure trove of fossils.
“Isolated teeth and partial dentitions of this unusual group, known as malleodectids, had been unearthed over the years at Riversleigh, where Professor Archer and his colleagues have excavated for almost four decades. But the profoundly different nature of the marsupials was not realised until a well-preserved portion of the skull of a juvenile was found in a 15 million year old Middle Miocene cave deposit at Riversleigh,” the statement reads. “This juvenile specimen was only recently extracted from its limestone casing, using an acid bath at UNSW, which made it available for study with modern techniques including micro-computed tomography. The young animal still had its baby teeth, and was teething, with adult teeth that had been about to erupt when it was alive still embedded in its jaw.”