The ancient leaper, Palorchestes (1873)

Phylum : Chordata
Class : Mammalia
Infraclass : Marsupiala
Suborder : Diprotodontia
Family : Palorchestidae
Genus : Paorchestes
Species : P. azael, P. painei, P. selestiae

  • Miocene/Pleistocene (11,6 Ma - 11 000 years)
  • 2,5 m long and 200 kg (size)
  • Australia (map)

Palorchestes is one of the surprising number of giant mammals that received their names under false pretenses: when he first described it, the famous paleontologist Richard Owen thought he was dealing with a prehistoric kangaroo–hence the Greek meaning of the name he bestowed, “giant leaper.” As it turns out, though, Palorchestes wasn’t a kangaroo but a large marsupial closely related to Diprotodon, better known as the Giant Wombat. Judging by the details of its anatomy–including its flexible proboscis and long front legs and claws–Palorchestes appears to have been the Australian equivalent of the South American Giant Sloth, ripping down and feasting on tough plants and trees.

Palorchestes reconstitution


Genus Palorchestes 

(literally ancient leaper)

is an extinct genus of herbivorous marsupial from Late Miocene Australia (11mya). so far three species have been described with the largest growing up to 8ft long. they had a short proboscis, similar to a modern tapir, and large claws which were probably used to strip bark from trees. the similarity of their proboscis to tapirs has given them the name marsupial tapir (although they are not related to tapirs).



Species: P.azael, P. Painei, P. selestiae 

drowzeeking  asked:

So, did Palorchestes and Macrauchenia have trunks or not?

Macrauchenia – Almost certainly not. Trunked mammals tend to convergently evolve very similar skull shapes to support such a nasal structure, and we don’t really see any of those in this animal. If anything its skull looks more like a sauropod dinosaur than a mammal! (And the idea of trunked sauropods has been thoroughly debunked.)

Palorchestes – Maaaybe? It’s skull is trunkish enough for it to at least be plausible, although based on the shape I’d probably go for more something much more saiga-like than tapir-like.


Reconstruction by Peter Trusler, seen at Melbourne Museum:

Palorchestes was a large marsupial herbivore that browsed forest shrubs. When fossilised Palorchestes teeth were first discovered, they were thought to be from a giant kangaroo. As more fossils were discovered it became clear that the narrow skull, powerful legs and long claws made Palorchestes quite different from any living animal.

This Palorchestes skull is the most complete in Australia, preserving the thin bones of the brain case. Discoveries like this, from a cave near Buchan in eastern Victoria, help us understand what this animal looked like.”


Palorchestes azeal. The marsupial tapir. What a wonderful dork.
He’s a diprotodontid marsupial, so he’s pretty closely related to the super-wombats. Unlike the super-wombats though, he’s got huge fuck off claws, a well developed hyoid bone (indicating a freaky long giraffesque tongue) and rather strange skull that indicates that it may have had a trunk.
All well and good an cool and wonderful and warm and moist and delicious.
But it wasn’t until this year that I found out how rather strange that skull actually is. Let me share this with you now.


Sorry to bother you sir, but has noone bothered to tell you that your orbits are too high up and your maxilla and premaxilla are at an almost irresponsible length.