name = Thingodonts
fossil_range = Oligocene - Miocene
regnum = Animalia
phylum = Chordata
classis = Mammalia
infraclassis = Marsupialia
ordo = †Yalkaparidontia
ordo_authority = Archer, Hand & Godthelp, 1988
familia = †Yalkaperidontidae
familia_authority = Archer, Hand & Godthelp, 1988
genus = †"Yalkaparidon"
genus_authority = Archer, Hand & Godthelp, 1988
subdivision_ranks = Paleospecies
subdivision = †"Yalkaparidon coheni" †"Yalkaparidon jonesi"

Thingodonta is the colloquial name given to a bizarre order of extinct Australian marsupials, first described in 1988 and known only from the Oligo-Miocene deposits of Riversleigh, northeastern Australia.

A single genus, "Yalkaparidon" (from an aboriginal word for boomerang, alluding to the boomerang shape of its molars when seen in occlusal view, and the Greek word for tooth) and two species, "Y. coheni" and "Y. jonesi", have so far been described. Numerous isolated teeth and jaw bones of "Yalkaparidon" are known, but only a single skull (of "Y. coheni") has so far been recovered.

These specimens of "Yalkaparidon" exhibit a fascinating melange of characters: the molars are zalambdodont (a distinctive tooth type also found in the marsupial mole "Notoryctes", the living placental 'insectivores' "Solenodon", tenrecs and golden moles, as well as a number of fossil groups); the incisors are very large and hypselodont (open-rooted and hence ever-growing, similar to those of rodents); the basicranial region of the only known skull is very primitive, somewhat similar to those of plesiomorphic bandicoots. The zalambdodont molars appear to link it to notoryctid marsupial moles, but detailed study of the teeth of these two groups suggests that they have evolved independently, and "Yalkaparidon" is anatomically otherwise very different from the marsupial moles. The incisors resemble those of diprotodontians, but no other features convincingly support this relationship, and the convergent evolution of such incisors in South American 'pseudodiprotodont' groups (such as caenolestids and polydolopimorphians) suggests that "Yalkaparidon" and diprotodontians may have evolved similar incisors independently. Basicranial similarities to bandicoots most likely represent shared plesiomorphic characters, and hence are not indicative of a close relationship.

For these reasons, "Yalkaparidon" is currently placed in its own family, Yalkaparidontidae, and order, Yalkaparidontia; this placement would make this the only order of Australian marsupials known to have gone extinct. However, Frederick Szalay suggested in his 1994 book 'Evolutionary History of the Marsupials and an Analysis of Osteological Characters' that "Yalkaparidon" is indeed a diprotodontian (as evinced by its incisors), albeit one that retains a highly primitive basicranium.

The exact function of its unusual dentition remains obscure, and suggestions that it may have fed on worms (based on the similarities of its molars to those of worm-eating tenrecs), caterpillars or eggs are tenuous. However, its source of food presumably had a hard outer covering (necessitating use of the large incisors) but relatively soft interior, as zalambdodont molars cannot crush food items. Future insights into the evolutionary relationships, functional morphology and lifestyle of "Yalkaparidon" must await more detailed study. It remains one of the most enigmatic members of Australia's unique mammalian fauna.


* [ Mikko's Phylogeny Archive - Australidelphia - Australian marsupials]

External links

* [ Yalkaparidon coheni from the lost]

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  • Yalkaparidontia —   Yalkaparidontia Rango temporal: Oligoceno Mioceno …   Wikipedia Español

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