Ancient mini koala may help solve mystery of early marsupial evolution

Ancient mini koala may help solve mystery of early marsupial evolution

Reconstruction of the 25-million-year-old marsupial ecosystem

Illustration courtesy of Peter Schouten

A mini koala meandered through central Australia about 25 million years ago. The newly discovered species belonged to a community that contained the oldest known members of the koala family – and it could provide crucial missing information on the mysterious early evolution of marsupials.

The novel species – which has been named Lumakoala blackae – is represented by just by a dozen ancient teeth, mostly upper molars, found in fossil-bearing rocks near Alice Springs.

“Teeth are good because they provide a huge amount of evolutionary and dietary …

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