The Recently Extinct Plants and Animals Database


Megalibgwilia ramsayi (Owen, 1884)

Ramsay's echidna (proposed)



Taxonomy & Nomenclature

Synonym/s: Echidna ramsayi Owen, 1884 (original combination); Zaglossus ramsayi Owen, 1884


Dun (1895) described a new species of tachyglossid that he named Echidna robusta. Murray (1978a) placed E. robusta in Zaglossus so that it became known as Z. robusta. However, he almost immediately (Murray, 1978b) synonymized this species with Echidna ramsayi (Owen, 1884) when he had examined extra post-cranial material, but simultaneously transferred E. ramsayi to Zaglossus, the genus to which he had originally assigned the junior Z. robusta in the first place. Z. ramsayi, as it became known, was again transferred to a new genus erected by (Griffiths et al. 1991): Megalibgwilia. No further taxonomic changes have taken place since.

This species was considered possibly synonymous with M. owenii (Glauert, 1914; Murray, 1978a). It is a synonym of M. owenii according to (Helgen et al., 2012). An estimated weight of 10-12kg has been given by (Johnson, 2006).


Conservation Status

Last record c. 48,000 BC



Australia (New South Wales & Tasmania)






See (Griffiths et al. 1991).





Original scientific description:

Owen, Richard. (1884b). Evidence of a large extinct monotreme (Echidna ramsayi Owen) from the Wellington Breccia Cave New South Wales. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society London 175: 273-275.


Other references:

Ashwell, Ken W. S., Hardman, Craig D. and Musser, Anne M. (2014). Brain and behaviour of living and extinct echidnas. Zoology 117: 349-361.

Ayliffe, L. K., G. J. Prideaux, M. I. Bird, R. Grün, R. G. Roberts, G. A. Gully, R. Jones, L. K. Fifield, and R. G. Cresswell. 2008. Age constraints on Pleistocene megafauna at Tight Entrance Cave in southwestern Australia. Quaternary Science Reviews 27: 1784-1788.

Dawson, L. (1985). Marsupial fossils from Wellington Caves, New South Wales; the historic and scientific significance of the collections in the Australia Museum, Sydney. Records of the Australian Museum 37: 55-69.

Dun, W. S. (1895). Notes on the occurrence of monotreme remains in the Pliocene of New South Wales. Records of the Geological Survey of New South Wales 4: 118-126.

Glauert, Ludwig. (1914). The mammoth cave (continued). Records of the Western Australian Museum 1: 244-251.

Griffiths, Mervyn; Wells, Rod T. and Barrie, D. J. (1991). Observations on the skulls of fossil and extant echidnas (Monotremata: Tachyglossidae). Australian Mammalogy 14(2): 87-101.

Helge, Kristofer M., Miguez, Roberto Portela, Kohen, James L. and Helgen, Lauren E. (2012). Twentieth century occurrence of the Long-Beaked Echidna Zaglossus bruijnii in the Kimberley region of Australia. Zookeys (255): 103-132.

Johnson, Chris. (2006). Australia's Mammal Extinctions: A 50,000 year history. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Krefft, G. (1868). On the discovery of a new and gigantic fossil species of Echidna in Australia. [i]Annals of the Magazine of Natural History[/i] [b]1[/b]: 113-114.

Lydekker, Richard. (1887). Catalogue of the fossil Mammalia in the British Museum (Natural History) Cromwell Road, S. W. Part 5. Containing the Group Tillodontia, the Orders Sirenia, Cetacea, Edentata, Marsupialia, Monotremata, and supplement. London, the Trustees of the British Museum (Natural History), xxxv, 345 pp.

Mahoney, J. A. and Ride, W. D. L. (1975). Index to the genera and species of fossil Mammalia described from Australia and New Guinea between 1838 and 1968. Western Australian Museum Special Publication 6: 1-250.

McNamara, Ken and Murray, Peter. (2010). Prehistoric Mammals of Western Australia. Welshpool, WA: Western Australian Museum. 107 pp.

Murray, P. F. (1978a). A Pleistocene spiny anteater from Tasmania (Monotremata: Tachyglossidae, Zaglossus). Papers and Proceedings of the Royal Society of Tasmania 112: 39-67.

Murray, P. F. (1978b). Late Cenozoic monotreme anteaters. Australian Zoologist 20(1): 29-55.

Murray, P. F. (1984). Extinctions Downunder: a bestiary of extinct Australian Late Pleistocene monotremes and marsupials, pp. 600-628. In: Martin, P. S. and Klein, R. G. (eds.). Quaternary Extinctions: A Prehistoric Revolution. Tuscon, Arizona: University of Arizona Press.

Murray, P. F. (1991). The Pleistocene megafauna of Australia, pp. 1071-1164. In: Vickers-Rich, P., Monaghan, J. M., Baird, R. F., and Rich, T. H. Vertebrate Palaeontology of Australasia. Lilydale, Victoria: Pioneer Design Studio.

Murray, P. F., and A. Goede. (1977). Pleistocene vertebrate remains from a cave near Montagu, N.W. Tasmania. Records of the Queen Victoria Museum 60: 1-30.

Musser, A. M. (2003). Review of the monotreme fossil record and comparison of paleontological and molecular data. Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology Part A 136: 927-942.

OWEN, R. [In Anon.] (1883?)-Evidence of a large extinct monotreme (Echidna Ramsayi, Ow.) from the Wellington Breccia Cave, New South Wales. Proc. R. Soc. 36 : 4. ["For a note on the' year of publication of this work see p. 29 of this Index" (Mahoney & Ride, 1975)]

Owen, Richard. (1884a)-Description of teeth of a large extinct (marsupial?) genus, Sceparnodon, Ramsay. Phil. Trans. R. Soc. 175 : 245-8, pI. 11 (numbered 12 in error).

Owen, Richard. [In Anon.] (1887)-On fossil remains of Echidna Ramsayi (Ow.). Part n. Froc. R. Soc. 42 : 390.

Pledge, Neville S. (1980). Giant echidnas in South Australia. South Australian Naturalist 55: 27-30.

Pledge, Neville S. (1990). The Upper Fossil Fauna of the Henschke Fossil Cave, Naracoorte, South Australia. Memoirs of the Queensland Museum (Proceedings of the De Vis Symposium) 28(1): 247-262.

Prideaux, Gavin J. (2004). Systematics and evolution of the sthenurine kangaroos. University of California Publications in Geological Sciences 146: i-xviii, 1-623.

Prideaux, Gavin J. et al. (2010). Timing and dynamics of Late Pleistocene mammal extinctions in southwestern Australia. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 107(51):22157-22162.

Reed, E. H. (2006). In Situ Taphonomic Investigation of Pleistocene Large Mammal Bone Deposits from The Ossuaries, Victoria Fossil Cave, Naracoorte, South Australia. Helictite 39(1): 5-15. [subfossil record]

Reed, E. H. and Bourne, S. J. (2000). Pleistocene fossil vertebrate sites of the south east region of South Australia. Transactions of the Royal Society of South Australia 124: 61-90.

Roberts R., Flannery T., Ayliffe L., Yoshida H., Olley J., Prideaux G., Laslett G., Baynes A., Smith M., Jones R.I., et al. 2001 New ages for the last Australian megafauna: Continent-wide extinction about 46,000 years ago. Science 292, 1888-1892.

Smith F.A., Lyons S.K., Ernest S.K.M., Jones K.E., Kaufman D.M., Dayan T., Marquet P.A., Brown J.H., Haskell J.P. 2003 Body mass of late Quaternary mammals. Ecology 84(12), 3403-3403.

Turney, Chris S. M., Flannery, Timothy F., Roberts, Richard G., Reid, Craig, Fifield, L. Keith, Higham, Tom F. G., Jacobs, Zenobia, Kemp, Noel, Colhoun, Eric A., Kalin, Robert M. and Ogle, Neil. (2008). Late-surviving megafauna in Tasmania, Australia, implicate human involvement in their extinction. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science 105(34): 12150-12153.

Wells, Rod T., Moriarty, K. and Williams, D. L. G. (1984). The fossil vertebrate deposits of Victoria Fossil Cave Naracoorte: an introduction to the geology and fauna. The Australian Zoologist 21(4): 305-333. 


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