name = "Palorchestes"
genus = "Palorchestes"
species = "P. painei""P. azael"
binomial = "Palorchestes azael"
"Palorchestes azael" ("ancient leaper") is an extinct species of
It was a 2'50 m (8 ft 4 in) long creature that resembled a
tapir, possessing a short proboscis(based on the appearance of its nasal bones). "Palorchestes" front legs bore large claws, probably used to pull down leaves.
"Palorchestes azael" was a marsupial species that appeared during the
Miocene, and went extinct about 40,000 years ago. This creature has been called the "marsupial tapir" because of its long nose. However, "Palorchestes" was not a tapir. The similarity in nose shape is an example of convergent evolution.
"Palorchestes azael" was almost as large as a
horse. It had claws like those of koalas. The tongue of "Palorchestes azael" was long and ribbon-like. It walked on four powerful legs. This creature was an herbivore. It is thought to have fed in these ways: pulling up bushes and eating the rootsstripping the bark from treesand eating the soft inner part of the trunk.
Fossilized remains of "Palorchestes azael" have been found at the Naracoorte Caves fossil site in
The generic name was coined by Sir
Richard Owen, who first found what he thought was the fragmentary jaw of a prehistoric kangaroo. It was not until more postcranial elements were found did anyone realize that "Palorchestes" was actually a diprodontid, and not a kangaroo. [Long, J., Archer, M., Flannery, T., and Hand, S. J. (2002) Prehistoric Mammals of Australia and New Guinea: One Hundred Million Years of Evolution. Kensington: University of New South Wales. (pg 100)]
*Barry Cox, Colin Harrison, R.J.G. Savage, and Brian Gardiner. (1999): The Simon & Schuster Encyclopedia of Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Creatures: A Visual Who's Who of Prehistoric Life.
Simon & Schuster.
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.