Skip to content Skip to navigation

Article: Parallel evolution of hand anatomy in kangaroos and vombatiform marsupials: functional and evolutionary implications

Publication: Palaeontology
Volume: 51
Part: 2
Publication Date: March 2008
Page(s): 321 338
Author(s): Vera Weisbecker and Michael Archer
Addition Information

How to Cite

WEISBECKER, V., ARCHER, M. 2008. Parallel evolution of hand anatomy in kangaroos and vombatiform marsupials: functional and evolutionary implications. Palaeontology51, 2, 321–338.

Online Version Hosted By

Wiley Online Library
Get Article: Wiley Online Library [Pay-to-View Access] |


  • ABBIE, A. A. 1939. A masticatory adaptation peculiar to some diprotodont marsupials. Proceedings of the Zoological Society, London, Series B, 109, 261–279.
  • AMRINE-MADSEN, H. M., SCALLY, M., WESTERMAN, M., STANHOPE, M. J., KRAJEWSKI, C. and SPRINGER, M. S. 2003. Nuclear gene sequences provide evidence for the monophyly of australidelphian marsupials. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 28, 186–196.
  • APLIN, K. P. 1990. Basicranial regions of diprotodontian marsupials: anatomy, ontogeny and phylogeny. Unpublished PhD thesis, University of New South Wales, Sydney, 390 pp.
  • APLIN, K. P. and ARCHER, M. 1987. Recent advances in marsupial systematics with a new syncretic classification. xv–lxxii. In ARCHER, M. (ed.). Possums and opossums. Studies in evolution Volume 1. Surrey Beatty and Sons and the Royal Zoological Society of New South Wales, Sydney, 400 pp.
  • ARCHER, M. 1976. Phascolarctid origins and the potential of the selenodont molar in the evolution of diprotodont marsupials. Memoirs of the Queensland Museum, 7, 367–373.
  • ARCHER, M. 1984a. The Australian marsupial radiation. 631–808. In ARCHER, M. and CLAYTON, G. (eds). Vertebrate zoogeography and evolution in Australasia. Hesperian Press, Carlisle, WA, 1203 pp.
  • ARCHER, M. 1984b. On the importance of being a koala. 809–815. In ARCHER, M. and CLAYTON, G. (eds). Vertebrate zoogeography and evolution in Australasia. Hesperian Press, Carlisle, WA, 1203 pp.
  • ARCHER, M., ARENA, R., BASSAROVA, M., BLACK, K., BRAMMALL, J., COOKE, B. M., CREASER, P., CROSBY, K., GILLESPIE, A., GODTHELP, H., GOTT, M., HAND, S. J., KEAR, B. P., KRIKMANN, A., MACKNESS, B., MUIRHEAD, J., MUSSER, A., MYERS, T., PLEDGE, N. S., WANG, Y. and WROE, S. 1999. The evolutionary history and diversity of Australian mammals. Australian Mammalogy, 21, 1–45.
  • ARGOT, C. 2001. Functional-adaptive anatomy of the forelimb in the Didelphidae, and the paleobiology of the Paleocene marsupials Mayulestes ferox and Pucadelphys andinus. Journal of Morphology, 247, 51–79.
  • BENSLEY, B. A. 1901a. On the question of an arboreal ancestry of the Marsupialia, and the interrelationships of the mammalian subclasses. American Naturalist, 35, 117–137.
  • BENSLEY, B. A. 1901b. A theory of the origin and evolution of the Australian Marsupialia. American Naturalist, 35, 245–266.
  • BENSLEY, B. A. 1903. On the evolution of the Australian Marsupialia; with remarks on the relationships of the marsupials in general. Transactions of the Linnean Society, Second Series, 9, 13–217.
  • BLACK, K. 1999. Diversity and relationships of living and extinct koalas (Phascolarctidae, Marsupialia). Australian Mammalogy, 21, 16–17.
  • BLOMBERG, S. P., GARLAND, J. T. and IVES, A. R. 2003. Testing for phylogenetic signal in comparative data: behavioural traits are more labile. Evolution, 57, 717–745.
  • BURNETT, G. T. 1830. Illustrations of the Quadrupeda, or quadrupeds; being an arrangement of the true four-footed beasts indicated in outline. Quarterly Journal of Science, Literature and Art, 28, 336–353.
  • CARTMILL, M. 1974. Pads and claws in arboreal locomotion. In JENKINS, F. A. (ed.). Primate locomotion. Academic Press, New York, NY, 390 pp.
  • CAMENS, A. 2005. The functional morphology of the manus and pes in two Late Pleistocene diprotodontids (Zygomaturus trilobus and Diprotodon optatum). Unpublished Honours thesis, Flinders University, Adelaide, 183 pp.
  • CARDILLO, M., BININDA-EMONDS, O. R. P., BOAKES, E. and PURVIS, A. 2004. A species-level phylogenetic supertree of marsupials. Journal of Zoology, London, 264, 11–31.
  • CAUMUL, R. and POLLY, P. D. 2005. Phylogenetic and environmental components of morphological variation: skull, mandible, and molar shape in marmots (Marmota, Rodentia). Evolution, 59, 2460–2472.
  • EMERY, C. 1897. Beitrge zur Entwicklungsgeschichte und Morphologie des Hand – und Fussskelets der Marsupialier. 368–433. In SEMON, R. (ed.). Zoologische Forschungsreisen in Australien und dem Malayischen Archipel Volume 2. Gustav Fischer, Jena, 433 pp.
  • FELSENSTEIN, J. 1985. Phylogenies and the comparative method. American Naturalist, 125, 1–15.
  • FINCH, M. E. and FREEDMAN, L. 1988. Functional morphology of the limbs of Thylacoleo carnifex Owen (Thylacoleonidae: Marsupialia). Australian Journal of Zoology, 36, 251–272.
  • FLEAGLE, J. G., STERN, J. T. J., JUNGERS, W. L., SUSMAN, R. L., VANGOR, A. K. and WELLS, J. P. 1981. Climbing: a biomechanical link with brachiation and with bipedalism. Symposium of the Zoological Society, London, 48, 359–375.
  • FLOWER, W. H. 1867. Osteology of the Mammalia. Macmillan, London, 383 pp.
  • GARLAND, T. J., HARVEY, P. H. and IVES, A. R. 1992. Procedures for the analysis of comparative data using phylogenetically independent contrasts. Systematic Biology, 41, 18–32.
  • GAUBERT, P., WOZENCRAFT, W. C., CORDEIRO-ESTRELA, P. and VERON, G. 2005. Mosaics of convergences and noise in morphological phylogenies: What’s in a viverrid-like carnivoran? Systematic Biology, 54, 865–894.
  • GILL, T. 1872. On the characteristics of the primary groups of the class of mammals. American Naturalist, 5, 526–533.
  • GRAND, T. and BARBOZA, P. S. 2001. Anatomy and development of the koala, Phascolarctos cinereus: an evolutionary perspective of the superfamily Vombatoidea. Anatomy and Embryology, 203, 211–223.
  • HAMRICK, M. W., ROSENMAN, B. A. and BRUSH, J. A. 1999. Phalangeal morphology of the Paromomyidae (?Primates, Plesiadapiformes): the evidence for gliding behavior reconsidered. American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 109, 397–413.
  • HAND, S. J., ARCHER, M., GODTHELP, H., RICH, T. H. and PLEDGE, N. S. 1993. Nimbadon, a new genus and three new species of Tertiary zygomaturines (Marsupialia: Diprotodontidae) from Northern Australia, with a reassessment of Neohelos. Memoirs of the Queensland Museum, 33, 193–210.
  • HILDEBRAND, M. and GOSLOW, G. 2001. Analysis of vertebrate structure. John Wiley and Sons, New York, NY, 635 pp.
  • HOROVITZ, I. and SÁNCHEZ-VILLAGRA, M. R. 2003. A morphological analysis of marsupial mammal higher-level phylogenetic relationships. Cladistics, 19, 181–212.
  • IWANIUK, A. N., PELLIS, S. M. and WHISHAW, I. Q. 2000. The relative importance of body size, phylogeny, locomotion, and diet in the evolution of forelimb dexterity in fissiped carnivores (Carnivora). Canadian Journal of Zoology, 78, 1110–1125.
  • JENKINS, F. A. J. 1981. Wrist rotation in primates: a critical adaptation for brachiators. Symposium of the Zoological Society, London, 48, 429–451.
  • JI, Q., LUO, Z. and JI, S.-A. 1999. A Chinese triconodont mammal and mosaic evolution of the mammalian skeleton. Nature, 398, 326–330.
  • JOUFFROY, F. K., GODINOT, M. and NAKANO, Y. 1993. Biometrical characteristics of primate hands. 133–171. In PREUSCHOFT, H. and CHIVERS, D. J. (eds). Hands of primates. Springer, Wien, 421 pp.
  • JUNGERS, W. L., FALSETTI, A. B. and WALL, C. E. 1995. Shape, relative size, and size-adjustments in morphometrics. Yearbook of Physical Anthropology, 38, 137–161.
  • JUNGERS, W. L., GODFREY, L. R., SIMONS, E. L., WUNDERLICH, R. E., RICHMOND, B. G. and CHATRATH, P. 2002. Ecomorphology and behavior of giant extinct lemurs from Madagascar. 371–411. In PLAVCAN, M. J., KAY, R. F., JUNGERS, W. L. and VAN SCHAIK, C. P. (eds). Reconstructing behavior in the primate fossil record. Kluwer Academic/Plenum, New York, NY, 350 pp.
  • KAVANAGH, J. R., BURK-HERRICK, A., WESTERMAN, M. and SPRINGER, M. S. 2004. Relationships among families of Diprotodontia (Marsupialia) and the phylogenetic position of the autapomorphic honey possum (Tarsipes rostratus). Journal of Mammalian Evolution, 11, 207–222.
  • KIELAN-JAWOROWSKA, Z. 1976. Evolution of the therian mammal since the late Cretaceous of Asia. Part II. Postcranial skeleton in Kennalestes and Asioryctes. Paleontologia Polonica, 37, 65–83.
  • KIRSCH, J. A. W., LAPOINTE, F. J. and SPRINGER, M. S. 1997. DNA-hybridisation studies of marsupials and their implications for metatherian classification. Australian Journal of Zoology, 45, 211–280.
  • LAUDER, G. V. 1995. On the inference of function from structure. 1–18. In THOMASON, J. J. (ed.). Functional morphology in vertebrate paleontology. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 293 pp.
  • LEE, A. and MARTIN, R. 1988. The koala. Australian Natural History Series, University of New South Wales Press, Sydney, 102 pp.
  • LEMELIN, P. 1999. Morphological correlates of substrate use in didelphid marsupials: implications for primate origins. Journal of Zoology, London, 247, 165–175.
  • LEWIS, O. J. 1989. Functional anatomy of the evolving hand and foot. Clarendon Press, London, 368 pp.
  • LONG, J., ARCHER, M., FLANNERY, T. F. and HAND, S. J. 2002. Prehistoric mammals of Australia and New Guinea. University of New South Wales Press, Sydney, 244 pp.
  • LUCKETT, W. P. 1994. Suprafamilial relationships within Marsupialia: resolution and discordance from multidisciplinary data. Journal of Mammalian Evolution, 2, 225–283.
  • LUO, Z.-X., JI, Q., WIBLE, J. R. and YUAN, C.-X. 2003. An Early Cretaceous tribosphenic mammal and metatherian evolution. Science, 302, 1934–302.
  • MARSHALL, L. G., CASE, J. A. and WOODBURNE, M. O. 1990. Phylogenetic relationships of the families of marsupials. 433–505. In GENOWAYS, H. H. (ed.). Current mammalogy. Volume 2 . Plenum Press, New York, NY, 540 pp.
  • MORENO, K. 2005. Jurassic–Cretaceous dinosaur footprints from South America and pedal biomechanics in ornithopod dinosaurs. Unpublished PhD thesis, University of Bristol, 152 pp.
  • MUNSON, C. J. 1992. Postcranial descriptions of Ilaria and Ngapakaldia (Vombatiformes, Marsupialia) and the phylogeny of the vombatiforms based on postcranial morphology. University of California, Publications in Zoology, 125, 1–99.
  • NAPIER, J. R. 1961. Prehensility and opposability in the hands of primates. Symposium of the Zoological Society, London, 5, 115–133.
  • NILSSON, M. A., ARNASON, U., SPENCER, P. B. S. and JANKE, A. 2004. Marsupial relationships and a timeline for marsupial radiation in South Gondwana. Gene, 340, 189–196.
  • OSBORNE, M. J., CHRISTIDIS, L. and NORMAN, J. A. 2002. Molecular phylogenetics of the Diprotodontia (kangaroos, wombats, koala, possums, and allies). Molecular phylogenetics and evolution, 25, 219–228.
  • OWEN, R. 1838. Fossil remains from Wellington Valley, Australia. 359–369. In Mitchell, T. L. (ed.). Three expeditions into the interior of eastern Australia, with descriptions of the recently explored region of Australia Felix, and of the present colony of New South Wales. Volume 1. T. and W. Boone, London, 416 pp.
  • OWEN, R. 1859. On the fossil mammals of Australia. 1. Description of a mutilated skull of a large marsupial carnivore (Thylacoleo carnifex Owen) from a calcareous conglomerate stratum, eighty miles SW of Melbourne, Vic. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, 149, 309–322.
  • OWEN, R. 1872. On the fossil mammals of Australia. VI Genus Phascolomys Geoffr. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, 162, 173–196.
  • PHILLIPS, M. J., McLENACHAN, P. A., DOWN, C. and GIBB, G. 2006. Combined mitochondrial and nuclear DNA sequences resolve the interrelations of the major Australasian marsupial radiation. Systematic Biology, 55, 122–137.
  • PLEDGE, N. S. 1987a. Muramura williamsi, a new genus and species of ?wynyardiid (Marsupialia: Vombatoidea) from the middle Miocene Etadunna Formation of South Australia. 393–400. In ARCHER, M. (ed.). Possums and opossums. Studies in evolution Volume 1. Surrey Beatty and Sons and the Royal Zoological Society of New South Wales, Sydney, 400 pp.
  • PLEDGE, N. S. 1987b. Phascolarctos maris, a new species of koala (Marsupialia: Phascolarctidae) from the early Pliocene of South Australia. 327–330. In ARCHER, M. (ed.). Possums and opossums. Studies in evolution Volume 1. Surrey Beatty and Sons and the Royal Zoological Society of New South Wales, Sydney, 400 pp.
  • POLLY, P. D. in press. Adaptive zones and the pinniped ankle: a 3D quantitative analysis of carnivoran tarsal evolution. In SARGIS, E. J. and DAGOSTO, M. (eds). Mammalian evolutionary morphology: a tribute to Frederick S. Szalay. Kluwer Academic/Plenum, New York, NY.
  • PREUSCHOFT, H., GODINOT, M., BEARD, K. C., NIESCHALK, U. and JOUFFROY, F. K. 1993. Biomechanical considerations to explain important morphological characters of primate hands. 245–256. In PREUSCHOFT, H. and CHIVERS, D. J. (eds). Hands of primates. Springer, Wien, 421 pp.
  • SÁNCHEZ-VILLAGRA, M. R. and WILLIAMS, B. A. 1998. Levels of homoplasy in the evolution of the mammalian skeleton. Journal of Mammalian Evolution, 5, 113–126.
  • SARGIS, E. J. 2002a. Functional morphology of the forelimb of tupaiids (Mammalia, Scandentia) and its phylogenetic implications. Journal of Morphology, 253, 10–42.
  • SARGIS, E. J. 2002b. Functional morphology of the hindlimb of tupaiids (Mammalia, Scandentia) and its phylogenetic implications. Journal of Morphology, 254, 149–185.
  • SCOTT, H. H. 1915. A monograph of Nototherium tasmanicum. Tasmania Department of Mines, Geological Survey Record, 4, 47 pp.
  • SERVENTY, V. and SERVENTY, C. 1975. The koala. Sunrise Books, New York, NY, 80 pp.
  • SHOCKEY, B. J., CROFT, D. A. and Anaya, F. 2007. Analysis of function in the absence of functional homologues: a case study using mesotheriid notoungulates (Mammalia). Paleobiology, 33, 228–248.
  • SIMMONS, N. B. 1993. The importance of methods: archontan phylogeny and cladistic analysis of morphological data. 1–61. In MacPHEE, R. D. E. (ed.). Primates and their relatives in phylogenetic perspective. Plenum, New York, NY, 98 pp.
  • STAFFORD, B. J. and THORINGTON, R. W. 1998. Carpal development and morphology in archontan mammals. Journal of Morphology, 235, 135–155.
  • STIRLING, E. C. and ZIETZ, A. H. C. 1899. Fossil remains of Lake Callabonna. Part I. Description of the manus and pes of Diprotodon australis, Owen. Memoirs of the Royal Society of South Australia, 1, 1–40.
  • STIRTON, R. A. 1967. The Diprotodontidae from the Ngapakaldi fauna, South Australia. Bulletin of the Australian Bureau of Mineral Resources, Geology and Geophysics, 85, 1–44.
  • STIRTON, R. A., WOODBURNE, M. O. and PLANE, M. 1967. Tertiary Diprotodontidae from Australia and New Guinea. Bulletin of the Australian Bureau of Mineral Resources, Geology and Geophysics, 85, 160.
  • STRAHAN, R. 1997. The mammals of Australia. Reed New Holland, Sydney, 756 pp.
  • SZALAY, F. S. 1994. Evolutionary history of marsupials and an analysis of osteological characters. Cambridge University Press, New York, NY, 495 pp.
  • TAYLOR, M. E. 1974. The functional anatomy of the forelimb of some African Viverridae (Carnivora). Journal of Morphology, 143, 307–336.
  • THORINGTON, R. W. J. and DARROW, K. 2000. Anatomy of the squirrel wrist: bones, ligaments, and muscles. Journal of Morphology, 246, 85–102.
  • TROUGHTON, E. L. G. 1959. The marsupial fauna: its origin and radiation. Monographiae Biologicae, 8, 69–88.
  • VAN VALKENBURGH, B. 1987. Skeletal indicators of locomotor behavior in living and extinct carnivores. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, 7, 162–182.
  • WAGNER, G. P., CHIU, C. and LAUBICHLER, M. 2000. Developmental evolution as a mechanistic science: the inference from developmental mechanisms to evolutionary processes. American Zoologist, 40, 819–831.
  • WEISBECKER, V. and SÁNCHEZ-VILLAGRA, M. R. 2006. Carpal evolution in diprotodontian marsupials. Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, 146, 369–384.
  • WEISBECKER, V. and SCHMID, S. 2007. Autopodial skeletal diversity in hystricognath rodents: functional and phylogenetic aspects. Mammalian Biology, 72, 27–44.
  • WEISBECKER, V. and WARTON, D. I. 2006. Evidence at hand: diversity, functional implications, and locomotory prediction in intrinsic hand proportions of diprotodontian marsupials. Journal of Morphology, 267, 1469–1485.
  • WELLS, R. T. and NICHOL, B. 1977. On the manus and pes of Thylacoleo carnifex Owen (Marsupialia). Transactions of the Royal Society of South Australia, 101, 139–146.
  • WINDSOR, D. E. and DAGG, A. I. 1971. The gaits of the Macropodinae (Marsupialia). Journal of Zoology, London, 163, 165–175.
  • WOODBURNE, M. O. 1984. Families of marsupials: relationships, evolution and biogeography. 48–71. In BROADHEAD, T. W. (ed.). Mammals: notes for a short course. Paleontological Society, Boulder, 234 pp.
  • WROE, S., LOWRY, M. B. and ANTON, M. in press. How to build a mammalian super-predator? Journal of Zoology.
  • WROE, S., MYERS, T., SEEBACHER, F., KEAR, B. P., GILLESPIE, A., CROWTHER, M. and SALISBURY, S. 2003. An alternative method for predicting body mass: the case of the Pleistocene marsupial lion. Paleobiology, 29, 403–411.
  • YALDEN, D. W. 1970. The functional morphology of the carpal bones in carnivores. Acta Anatomica, 77, 481–500.
  • YALDEN, D. W. 1971. The functional morphology of the carpus in ungulate mammals. Acta Anatomica, 78, 461–487.
  • YALDEN, D. W. 1972. The form and function of the carpal bones in some arboreally adapted mammals. Acta Anatomica, 82, 383–406.
PalAss Go! URL: | Twitter: Share on Twitter | Facebook: Share on Facebook | Google+: Share on Google+