Functional morphology

Fossils provide the only means of understanding the form and biology of extinct species.

The quality of preservation of fossils from the Naracoorte Caves makes them ideal for reconstructing the body shape, musculature and biology of extinct species, including megafauna. Kangaroos (Macropodidae), echidna, the marsupial lion and the giant megafauna snake Wonambi have been a focus of functional morphological studies.

The quantity and quality of bone material available for a wide range of species from the Naracoorte Caves presents ongoing opportunities for their use in understanding the functional morphology of extinct species.

Further reading

  • Ashwell, K.W.S., Hardman, C.D. and Musser, A.M. 2014. Brain and behaviour of living and extinct echidnas. Zoology 117, 349–361. (F)
  • Bishop, N. 1997. Functional anatomy of the macropodid pes. Proceedings of the Linnean Society of New South Wales 117, 17-50.
  • Palci, A., Caldwall, M. and Scanlon, J. 2014. First report of a pelvic girdle in the fossil snake Wonambi naracoortensis Smith, 1976, and a revised diagnosis for the genus. Journal of Vertebrate Palaeontology 34, 965–969. (F)
  • Scanlon, J.D. 2005. Cranial morphology of the Plio−Pleistocene giant madtsoiid snake Wonambi naracoortensis. Acta Palaeontologica Polonica 50, 139–180.
  • Wells, R.T., and Nicol, B. 1977. On the manus and pes of Thylacoleo carnifex Owen (Marsupialia). Transactions of the Royal Society of South Australia 101, 139-146.
  • Wroe S., Myers T. J., Wells R. T. and Gillespie A. (1999) Estimating the weight of the Pleistocene marsupial lion, Thylacoleo carnifex (Thylacoleonidae: Marsupialia): implications for the ecomorphology of a marsupial super-predator and hypotheses of impoverishment of Australian marsupial carnivore faunas. Australian Journal of Zoology 47, 489 – 498.