Two New Species of Fossil Leggadina (Rodentia: Muridae) From Northwestern Queensland

PeerJ. 2015 Jul 9;3:e1088. doi: 10.7717/peerj.1088. eCollection 2015.

Abstract

Only three species of fossil murine have been described to date in Australia even though they are often found in fossil deposits and can be highly useful in understanding environmental change over time. Until now the genus Leggadina, a group of short-tailed mice that is particularly well adapted to an arid environment, was only known from two extant species: L. forresti and L. lakedownensis. Here two new fossil species of the genus are described from sites in northwestern Queensland. Leggadina gregoriensis sp. nov. comes from the Early Pleistocene Rackham's Roost Site in the Riversleigh World Heritage Area and Leggadina macrodonta sp. nov. is from the Plio-Pleistocene Site 5C at Floraville Station. The evolution of the genus Leggadina and the lineage's response to palaeoecological factors is considered. Taphonomy of the two fossil deposits is examined and shows marked differences in both faunal composition of the assemblages and preservation. Description of L. gregoriensis and L. macrodonta extends the known temporal range of the Leggadina lineage by over 2 million years.

Keywords: Leggadina; Mammalia; Muridae; Pleistocene; Queensland.

Grant support

The authors declare there was no funding for this work.