The last dicynodont: an Australian Cretaceous relict

Tony Thulborn , Susan Turner

Abstract

Some long–forgotten fossil evidence reveals that a dicynodont (mammal-like reptile of the infraorder Dicynodontia) inhabited Australia as recently as the Early Cretaceous, ca. 110 Myr after the supposed extinction of dicynodonts in the Late Triassic. This remarkably late occurrence more than doubles the known duration of dicynodont history (from ca. 63 Myr to ca. 170 Myr) and betrays the profound impact of geographical isolation on Australian terrestrial faunas through the Mesozoic. Australia's late–surviving dicynodont may be envisaged as a counterpart of the ceratopians (horned dinosaurs) in Cretaceous tetrapod faunas of Asia and North America.