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Publication Date

September 2018


The genus Leggadina (colloquially known as ‘short-tailed mice’) is a common component of Quaternary faunas of northeastern Australia. They represent a member of the Australian old endemic murid radiation that arrived on the continent sometime during the late Cenozoic. Here we describe two new species of extinct Leggadina from Quaternary cave deposits as well as additional material of the extinct Leggadina macrodonta. Leggadina irvini sp. nov. recovered from Middle-Upper (late) Pleistocene cave deposits near Chillagoe, northeastern Queensland, is the biggest member of the genus, being substantially larger than any other species so far described. Leggadina webbi sp. nov. from Middle Pleistocene cave deposits at Mount Etna, central eastern Queensland, shares features with the oldest species of the genus, the Early Pleistocene L. gregoriensis. Based on the current palaeoecological interpretation of the type locality, L. webbi, represents the only member of the genus that inhabited rainforest. The succession of Leggadina species through the late Quaternary suggests an ecological replacement of the extinct large-bodied L. irvini with the extant, small-bodied L. lakedownesis at Chillagoe. At Mt. Etna, the extinct rainforest species L. webbi is replaced with the extant xeric-adapted L. forresti during the latest Middle Pleistocene. This replacement is associated with a mid-Pleistocene shift towards progressive intensifying seasonal and arid climates. Our study adds to the growing list of small-bodied faunal extinctions during the late Quaternary of northern Australia.


Climate Change, Extinction, Leggadina, Muridae, Palaeoecology, Pleistocene, Quaternary, Rodents

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