Is the modern koala (Phascolarctos cinereus) a derived dwarf of a Pleistocene giant? Implications for testing megafauna extinction hypotheses

Price, G. J. (2008) Is the modern koala (Phascolarctos cinereus) a derived dwarf of a Pleistocene giant? Implications for testing megafauna extinction hypotheses. Quaternary Science Reviews, 27 27-28: 2516-2521. doi:10.1016/j.quascirev.2008.08.026


Author Price, G. J.
Title Is the modern koala (Phascolarctos cinereus) a derived dwarf of a Pleistocene giant? Implications for testing megafauna extinction hypotheses
Formatted title
Is the modern koala (Phascolarctos cinereus) a derived dwarf of a Pleistocene giant? Implications for testing megafauna extinction hypotheses
Journal name Quaternary Science Reviews   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0277-3791
Publication date 2008-12-01
Year available 2008
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1016/j.quascirev.2008.08.026
Open Access Status Not yet assessed
Volume 27
Issue 27-28
Start page 2516
End page 2521
Total pages 6
Place of publication Oxford, UK
Publisher Pergamon-Elsevier Science Ltd.
Language eng
Subject C1
060305 Evolution of Developmental Systems
960305 Ecosystem Adaptation to Climate Change
Abstract The modern Australian koala (Phascolarctos cinereus) is commonly regarded as a dwarf descendent of a Late Pleistocene giant koala (Ph. stirtoni). The implication of that hypothesis is that the giant koala survived the Late Pleistocene megafaunal extinction "event", albeit as a smaller body-sized form. It is important to be able to constrain rates of Late Pleistocene faunal turnover, an aspect reliant on having accurate taxonomic information of extinct species. The koala dwarfing hypothesis is tested here by using a temporally-constrained biogeographical record of fossil koalas, and a morphological character analysis. The contemporary occurrence of both taxa in pre-Late Pleistocene deposits and significant differences in dental morphologies between those forms suggests that the modern koala is not a derived dwarf of the Pleistocene giant koala. Thus, the giant-form was among a number of other giant mammals, lizards and birds that suffered extinction sometime during the Late Pleistocene. The potential phenomenon of dwarfing of other Late Pleistocene and Recent faunas, such as grey kangaroos, is commonly used as a test for or against various megafaunal extinction hypotheses. However, the results of this study also demonstrate that the dwarfing hypothesis has not been adequately tested for a suite of other taxa. Thus, until the dwarfing hypothesis can be more fully tested, a clear understanding of the fate of Late Pleistocene faunas that apparently survived the extinction "event", and the origins of many extant forms will remain elusive. (C) 2008 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Keyword Geography, Physical
Geosciences, Multidisciplinary
Physical Geography
Geology
GEOGRAPHY, PHYSICAL
GEOSCIENCES, MULTIDISCIPLINARY
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Grant ID DP0881279
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collection: 2009 Higher Education Research Data Collection
 
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