Extinct 'Pig-Footed Bandicoot' Galloped Around Australia Like a Wonky Little Horse

2 Chaeropus yirratji, a newly-described types of pig-footed bandicoot, pitter-pattered around Australia on their unbalanced legs.

Credit: Peter Schouten/WA Museum

Researchers have actually found a brand-new types of pig-footed bandicoot– an extinct Australian marsupial that appears like a kangaroo, an opossum and a deer got a bit too friendly at the regional watering hole– and it has to do with as odd as you ‘d hope.

Pig-footed bandicoots are long-eared, long-tailed herbivores that when scooted about the sandy, dry stretches of main and western Australia for 10s of countless years prior to going extinct in the 1950 s. Maxing out with a body mass of about 1.3 pounds (600 grams; approximately the weight of a basketball) and a length of about 10 inches (26 centimeters), these mammals are thought about to be amongst the tiniest grazing animals that ever lived, according to the authors of a brand-new research study released March 13 in the journal Zootaxa

With 2 practical toes on their front legs and just one on each hind leg, the bandicoots have a little an assembled-by-committee appearance. Nevertheless, according to interviews performed with aboriginal people members in the 1980 s, the tripod toe plan did not prevent the little monsters from “galloping” at remarkably high speeds when distressed. [Marsupial Gallery: A Pouchful of Cute]

The aboriginal interviews have actually been vital to scientists as there are no pig-footed bandicoots delegated study in the wild; just 29 fossilized specimens stay on the planet’s museums. In the brand-new research study, scientists from the Nature Museum in London and the Western Australian Museum examined all 29 of those specimens, taking careful bone measurements and comparing DNA samples gathered in the 1940 s.

The outcomes revealed that these pig-footed bandicoot fossils represented 2 unique types; formerly, scientists believed there was just one type.

The freshly explained types, called Chaeropus yirratji after a regional aboriginal name for the animal, has bigger hind feet and a longer tail than its better-studied cousin ( Chaeropus ecaudatus), and might have had various grazing habits, the scientists composed. Future understanding of the distinctions in between the 2 types depends upon scientists having the ability to discover more fossils, which tend to be buried in owl droppings on cavern floorings.

Initially released on Live Science