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PALAEONTOLOGY:
- FOSSIL THYLACINES -
(page 2)
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    Nimbacinus dicksoni:
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life reconstruction of Nimbacinus dicksoni - Anne Musser
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A life reconstruction of Nimbacinus dicksoniNimbacinus was only about the size of a fox - considerably smaller than the modern thylacine.  Courtesy: Anne Musser.
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       N. dicksoni is from the Late Oligocene to Middle Miocene, and like many of the other known thylacinids of Tertiary age, was recently found in the rocks of Riversleigh.  The species was originally described on the basis of just upper and lower jaws that were found at Riversleigh Site D, but at Riversleigh Site AL90, a nearly complete skeleton with a perfect skull has since been discovered. Nimbacinus lacks many of the specializations found in other thylacines, and more
closely resembles dasyurids than other thylacinids.  A fox-sized hunter of the rainforest floor, it lived contemporarily with several other species of thylacines also known from Riversleigh.

    At right are shown palatal (above) and dorsal (below) views of the cranium of N. dicksoni, which were photographed by the curator of the Thylacine Museum during a visit to the University of Sydney in 2002.  Other thylacinid genera that have been found at Riversleigh include Badjicinus, Maximucinus, Muribacinus, Ngamalacinus, and Wabulacinus.  Although the thylacinid family was once known only from the modern species, T. cynocephalus, the discoveries that have been made at Riversleigh, especially in recent years, have greatly expanded our understanding of the evolutionary history of this and other Australian marsupial groups.

    Along with the Naracoorte Caves of South Australia, Riversleigh was designated a World Heritage Site in 1994.  Rare fossil sites such as these are integral to our understanding of the history of life, and must therefore be carefully preserved and protected.

skull of Nimbacinus dicksoni (palatal view) - image  C. Campbell
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skull of Nimbacinus dicksoni (dorsal view) - image  C. Campbell
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Palatal and dorsal views of the cranium of Nimbacinus dicksoni.
Courtesy: Dr. Stephen Wroe (USYD).
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Nimbacinus dicksoni - Riversleigh, QLD
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Nimbacinus dicksoni - Riversleigh, QLD
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The skull and various post-cranial elements of Nibacinus dicksoni prior to complete extraction from their fossil matrix.  Courtesy: Anna Gillespie, University of New South Wales (Sydney).
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Acknowledgement: This subsection of the Thylacine Museum has been referenced (in part) from: ARCHER, M., 1982. A review of Miocene thylacinids (Thylacinidae, Marsupialia), the phylogenetic position of the Thylacinidae and the problem of apriorisms in character analysis. In "Carnivorous Marsupials - Vol. 2" (Ed. M. Archer). Roy. Zool. Soc. N.S.W.: Sydney. pp. 445-76.
References
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