Thursday, 8 August 2013

Trove of Ancient Marsupial Fossils Discovered in Australia

Paleontologists have uncovered a fossil field in Australia that fills a large gap in the continent's environmental history, and contains several previously unknown ancient species of marsupials and bats.

Researchers at the University of New South Wales discovered the site near the Riversleigh fossil field, an UNESCO World Heritage site, in northwest Queensland last year, and have since collected nearly 4,000 lbs. (1,800 kilograms) of rock for analysis, according to a statement from the university.

Preliminary analyses suggest that the fossils formed about 13 million to 5 million years ago — a period marking Australia's transition from a warm, tropical climate to the arid climate that persists today and an epoch largely missing from the known fossil record.

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