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Superregnum: Eukaryota
Cladus: Unikonta
Cladus: Opisthokonta
Cladus: Holozoa
Regnum: Animalia
Subregnum: Eumetazoa
Cladus: Bilateria
Cladus: Nephrozoa
Superphylum: Deuterostomia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Infraphylum: Gnathostomata
Megaclassis: Osteichthyes
Cladus: Sarcopterygii
Cladus: Rhipidistia
Cladus: Tetrapodomorpha
Cladus: Eotetrapodiformes
Cladus: Elpistostegalia
Superclassis: Tetrapoda
Cladus: Reptiliomorpha
Cladus: Amniota
Cladus: Synapsida
Cladus: Eupelycosauria
Cladus: Sphenacodontia
Cladus: Sphenacodontoidea
Cladus: Therapsida
Cladus: Theriodontia
Subordo: Cynodontia
Infraordo: Eucynodontia
Cladus: Probainognathia
Cladus: Prozostrodontia
Cladus: Mammaliaformes
Classis: Mammalia
Subclassis: Prototheria
Ordo: Monotremata

Familia: Tachyglossidae
Genus: †Megalibgwilia
Species (2): M. owenii – M. robusta

In synonymy (1): M. ramsayi

Megalibgwilia Griffiths, Wells & Barrie, 1991
Authority for placement: original
Gender: [feminine]
Original status: valid genus
Type species: Echidna ramsayi Owen, 1884
Fixation: original designation [p. 90] [and monotypy]

Primary references

Griffiths, M.; Wells, R.T.; Barrie, D.J. 1991: Observations on the skulls of fossil and extant echidnas (Monotremata: Tachyglossidae). Australian mammalogy 14: 87–101. Google books Reference page. [first availability, see p. 90]

Megalibgwilia is a genus of echidna known only from Australian fossils that incorporates the oldest-known echidna species. The genus ranged from the Miocene until the late Pleistocene, becoming extinct about 50,000 years ago. Megalibgwilia species were more widespread in warmer and moist climates. The extinction can be attributed to increasing aridification in Southern Australia.[1]

Megalibgwilia was first described from a broken left humerus by Richard Owen in 1884, as "Echidna" ramsayi.[2] Complete skulls and postcranial fossils have since been described. A second species, M. robusta, was described in 1896 by Australian paleontologist William Sutherland Dun. Megalibgwilia comes from Greek mégas (μέγᾰς) and Wemba Wemba libgwil (plus the Latin suffix -ia), meaning echidna.[3]

Although they are sometimes commonly referred to as giant echidnas, Megalibgwilia species are thought to have been similar in size to the contemporary western long-beaked echidna, but with slightly longer forearms.[4] They were smaller than a large species known from fossils in Australia, Murrayglossus. M. ramsayi fossils have been found in deposits across mainland Australia and on Tasmania. M. robusta has only been found in New South Wales.[4] Megalibgwilia was probably an insect-eater, like the short-beaked echidna, rather than a worm-eater like members of Zaglossus.[3]

M. robusta is the oldest-known echidna and the only known Miocene species.[3]

Ashwell, Ken W.S.; Hardman, Craig D.; Musser, Anne M. (October 2014). "Brain and behaviour of living and extinct echidnas". Zoology. 117 (5): 349–361. doi:10.1016/j.zool.2014.05.002. PMID 25053446.
Owen, P. (1883). "Evidence of a Large Extinct Monotreme (Echidna Ramsayi, Ow.) from the Wellington Breccia Cave, New South Wales". Proceedings of the Royal Society of London. 36 (228–231): 273–275. doi:10.1098/rspl.1883.0073. JSTOR 109445.
Griffiths, M.; Wells, R.T.; Barrie, D.J. (1991). "Observations on the skulls of fossil and extant echidnas (Monotremata:Tachyglossidae)". Australian Mammalogy. 14: 87–101.
Long, J., Archer, M., Flannery, T. and Hand, S. 2002. Prehistoric Mammals of Australia and New Guinea: One Hundred Million Years of Evolution. Johns Hopkins University Press. pp 45–47. ISBN 0-8018-7223-5.

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