Abstract

The near-complete skull of the Giant Rat-kangaroo Ekaltadeta ima is described from a middle Miocene deposit at Riversleigh, north western Queensland. Surprisingly, the results of phylogenetic analysis indicate no special relationship with the only other hypsiprymnodontids for which substantial cranial material is known (Hypsiprymnodon moschatus, H. bartholomaii), but within Macropodoidea, a number of derived features present in E. ima are found only in another extinct taxon, the Balbarinae. Recent studies have suggested that Balbarinae may not represent a basal macropodid clade as thought by most previous authors and furthermore that the subfamily is perhaps distinct from all other kangaroos. In light of these findings an interesting possibility is noted, i.e., that Propleopinae and Balbarinae may represent a monophyletic clade to the exclusion of all other taxa. Preliminary results of investigation into dietary habitus indicate that Propleopinae represents a radiation of medium- to large-sized omnivorous kangaroos. Within this clade it is reiterated that a tendency toward carnivory might be inferred from the relative importance of high amplitude vertical shearing versus horizontal shearing and/or crushing elements in the dentition.

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