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Historical Zoogeography of Australian Mammals

George Gaylord Simpson
Evolution
Vol. 15, No. 4 (Dec., 1961), pp. 431-446
DOI: 10.2307/2406311
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2406311
Page Count: 16
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Historical Zoogeography of Australian Mammals
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Abstract

1. The five orders of native Australian mammals have had characteristically different geographic histories. 2. The dingo, the only native placental carnivore, is probably a feral species of prehistoric human introduction. 3. The Muridae have made multiple invasions of the Australian Region from Asia across the stepping stones of the East Indian islands, beginning probably in the Miocene. An "old Papuan" group now includes five rather isolated genera in New Guinea. Another old Papuan stock evolved there into the peculiar subfamily Hydromyinae. There have been two spreads of hydromyines, one early and one late, from New Guinea into Australia. The supposed hydromyines of the Philippines are only convergent toward the true Hydromyinae. 4. A stock probably of old Papuan origin but not positively identified in New Guinea early reached Australia and radiated extensively there into the Pseudomys group of genera, which warrants recognition as a subfamily Pseudomyinae. There was one late invasion of this group into New Guinea. 5. A probably somewhat later (Pliocene?) migrant into New Guinea gave rise there to the Uromys group of four genera. Thence first Melomys and later Uromys reached Australia, with little further differentiation. 6. There was a later, late Pliocene or early Pleistocene, invasion of New Guinea by one or two partly differentiated lineages of Rattus. This stock speciated considerably in New Guinea, reached Australia, and speciated more widely there. Prehistoric and historic introductions by humans followed. 7. The bats of the Australian Region are more varied than the rodents but have less endemicity. All were also derived ultimately from Asia, where the basic differentiation occurred, in a long series of migrations, perhaps thirty or even more, from early Tertiary onward. 8. New Guinea was the major center for bat differentiation within the Australian Region, mainly at lower taxonomic levels. Repeated spread from New Guinea to Australia occurred. There was no extensive radiation in Australia, and new differentiation there was less than in New Guinea. 9. There is a fairly regular gradient of chiropteran faunal similarity from Asia through the East Indies to Australia. Migration was predominantly in the direction Asia-Australia, and the gradient is in part due to progressive evolution along that line, in part to subsequent counter-migration from New Guinea westward, and in part to more local differentiations and movements. 10. Marsupials probably reached Australia in the late Mesozoic or earliest Cenozoic by island-hopping through the East Indies, where they became extinct. The great, well-known marsupial radiation occurred in Australia. Numerous marsupials spread from Australia to New Guinea, where there was some further progressive differentiation but little true radiation. There was some back-migration from New Guinea to Australia. Continuously attenuated spread to other islands, as far as the Solomons, Talaut, and Celebes, occurred from New Guinea, not directly from Australia. 11. Ancestors of the monotremes, still near the nominal reptile-mammal line, probably reached Australia in the Jurassic or late Triassic and there evolved into the Monotremata, strictly speaking, which have probably never occurred outside the Australian Region.

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