Fossil Uromys (Rodentia: Murinae) from central Queensland, with a description of a new Middle Pleistocene species
The first fossil species of Uromys (Giant Naked-tailed Rats) is described, as well as the southern-most records of the genus based on palaeontological data. Uromys aplini sp. nov. lived during the Middle Pleistocene in the area around Mount Etna, eastern central Queensland, but was probably driven extinct by climate-mediated habitat loss sometime after 205 ka but before c. 90 ka. A second species, the extant U. caudimaculatus, occurred in the area during the Late Pleistocene, but became locally extinct prior to the Last Glacial Maximum. These fossils indicate an unexpectedly high diversity of species of Uromys in Australia, suggesting a long occupation of the continent. Phylogenetic analysis places U. aplini together with other species of Uromys endemic to Australia, at the base of the radiation of the genus. This may indicate that the initial diversification of Uromys occurred in Australia rather than New Guinea, as has previously been thought. These new Quaternary records of Uromys occur approximately 550 km south of the southern-most modern record for the genus, indicating that Uromys was able to cross the southern St Lawrence biogeographic barrier, possibly twice during the Pleistocene.
Cramb, Jonathan, Scott A. Hocknull, and Gilbert J. Price. 2020. Fossil Uromys (Rodentia: Murinae) from central Queensland, with a description of a new Middle Pleistocene species. In Papers in Honour of Ken Aplin, ed. Julien Louys, Sue O’Connor, and Kristofer M. Helgen. Records of the Australian Museum 72(5): 175–191.