Palorchestes

Name: Palorchestes ‭(‬Ancient leaper‭)‬.
Phonetic: Pal-or-chess-teez.
Named By: Richard Owen‭ ‬-‭ ‬1873.
Classification: Chordata,‭ ‬Mammalia,‭ ‬Marsupiala,‭ ‬Diprotodontia,‭ ‬Palorchestidae.
Species: P.‭ ‬azael‭ (‬type‭)‬,‭ ‬P.‭ ‬anulus,‭ ‬P.‭ ‬painei,‭ ‬P.‭ ‬parvus,‭ ‬P.‭ ‬pickeringi,‭ ‬P.‭ ‬selestiae.
Diet: Herbivore.
Size: About‭ ‬2.5‭ ‬meters long.
Known locations: Australia,‭ ‬New South Wales.‭ ‬Queensland,‭ ‬Victoria‭ ‬-‭ ‬Nelson Bay Formation.
Time period: Tortonian of the Miocene through to the Zanclean of the Pliocene.
Fossil representation: Remains of several individuals,‭ ‬though possibly more fossils waiting to be described.

       Palorchestes was a large and probably heavy diprotodont,‭ ‬a kind of large quadrupedal herbivore that as a group had a distribution exclusive to ancient Australia.‭ ‬With this appearance in mind,‭ ‬it seems odd that this creature should be given a name that means‭ ‘‬ancient leaper‭’‬,‭ ‬but this is easily enough explained by the simple fact that when this genus was first named by Richard Owen in‭ ‬1873,‭ ‬he only had a fragmentary jaw to go on.‭ ‬Owen believed that this jaw was actually from an ancient kangaroo,‭ ‬and hence the name Palorchestes was given to the genus.
       Palorchestes is noted for two things in particular,‭ ‬the first being the large and powerful forelimbs which have very large and robust claws on the end.‭ ‬These are believed to have been used to pull down branches so that Palorchestes could feed upon foliage that otherwise would have been beyond reach.‭ ‬Ecologically this would have meant that Palorchestes would have had a similar niche to the large ground sloths of North and South America.
       Second is that the skull of Palorchestes‭ ‬is formed so that it could have supported a short proboscis‭ (‬trunk‭)‬.‭ ‬Combined with a long tongue,‭ ‬as evidenced by a long lower jaw symphysis,‭ ‬this would have allowed Palorchestes even more flexibility and reach when feeding.


Further reading
-‭ ‬On the Fossil Mammals of Australia.‭ ‬Part IX.‭ ‬Family Macropodidae‭; ‬Genera Macropus,‭ ‬Pachysiagon,‭ ‬Leptosiagon,‭ ‬Procoptodon,‭ ‬and Palorchestes,‭ ‬Richard Owen‭ ‬-‭ ‬1874.

-‭ ‬A new species of Palorchestidae‭ (‬Marsupialia‭) ‬from the Pliocene and early Pleistocene of Victoria,‭ ‬K.‭ ‬J.‭ ‬Piper‭ ‬-‭ ‬2006.

-‭ ‬Palorchestes selestiae,‭ ‬a new species of palorchestid marsupial from the early Pliocene Bluff Downs Local Fauna,‭ ‬northeastern Queensland,‭ ‬B.‭ ‬S.‭ ‬Mackness‭ ‬-‭ ‬2005.





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