Ambulator keanei here was a mid-sized example, closer to bear-sized at around 1m tall at the shoulder (~3’3″). It lived in South Australia during the Pliocene, about 3.9-3.6 million years ago, at a time when the climate was becoming drier and the local habitat was shifting towards open grasslands – and so it was was one of the first diprotodontids known to have specialized its limb anatomy for more efficient long-distance walking.
A bone in its wrist was modified into a heel-like structure, and skin impressions show large cushioning fleshy pads on the undersides of its feet. Its feet were also rotated to bear weight mainly on the outside edges, similar to the condition seen in some ground sloths, and its fingers and toes appear to have been held raised up off the ground while walking.
It’s September, the Cambrian series has been delayed until later this year, so instead let’s get speculative – it’s time for the return of #Spectember! I can’t manage daily content this time around, but I still have plenty of submitted concepts left over from last time.
So let’s get started with some marsupials suggested by someone crediting themselves only as Bruno Drundridge:
An early relative of kangaroos, Balbaroo fangaroo. Known from a couple of partial skulls discovered at the Riversleigh World Heritage Area in Queensland, Australia, it lived during the Early Miocene (~23-16 mya) and was probably about the size of a cat, around 45-60cm long (18-24″) not including the tail.
Based on the skeletons of other closely related species, it probably wasn’t able to hop. Instead it would have moved around quadrupedally, and the shape of its feet suggest it was also capable of climbing like a modern tree kangaroo.