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Dinosaur Dreaming

The questions: 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7 - 8 - 9 - 10

Ten questions (4):
How do you think the discovery of this mammal jaw may change the way we think about the evolution of mammals in Australia?

Tom Rich: It calls into question the widespread concept that the mammalian fauna of Australia was isolated from that of the rest of the world during all of its history. What isolation there was may come to be seen as a post-Mesozoic phenomenon.

Pat Vickers-Rich: Placentals were here early - may have gone extinct, then returned much later. Placentals may even have gotten their start here or on Gondwana.

Lesley Kool: Until March 1997, the general consensus was that placental mammals did not arrive in Australia until about 35 - 40 million years ago. If indeed the mammal jaw from Inverloch is a placental mammal, then it has pushed back the first appearance of this group more than 80 million years. That is pretty mind blowing. If it is not placental, then it means a previously unknown group of mammals was living in Australia 120 million years ago, and that has worldwide implications on mammalian evolution.

Nicola Barton: The jaw places mammals in Australia at an earlier date than previously known from elsewhere in the world.

Nick van Klaveren: This shows that marsupials, long considered "inferior" to placentals are actually superior in the nutrient poor soils and boom-bust climate of Australia. Also in the evolution of mammals, the proximity of the site to the south pole (then) may have given them an advantage over the reptiles.

Nicole Evered: We are definitely the most exciting continent - way ahead of the rest!