Bettongia pusilla McNamara, 1997:98

Nullabor dwarf bettong, Thompson's potoroo



Taxonomy & Nomenclature

The local name given for Caloprymnus campestris (weelba) by (Tate, 1879:124) has been reported elsewhere to be one of two names (along with wirlpa) that is used by Aboriginal people of southern South Australia and adjacent Western Australia for an unidentified macropod-like species (Tunbridge, 1991:59; Johnson, 2006:176). John Calaby suggests that this unidentified species might refer to an undescribed species known only from subfossils (Tunbridge, 1991:59). This latter species was subsequently described as Bettongia pusilla (McNamara, 1997). Whether or not the "'wirlpa', 'weelba' etc." (Tunbridge, 1991:59) refers to Caloprymnus or to Bettongia pusilla may never be known.


Conservation Status


Last record: 1500 (Fisher & Blomberg, 2012); after 1500 AD

IUCN RedList status: Extinct


This species is only known from sub-fossil remains (Baynes, 1987; Lundelius & Turnbull, 1989; McNamara, 1997; Prideaux et al., 2007)



Nullarbor Plain, Western Australia and South Australia, Australia


Biology & Ecology




Holotype: P35450 ("right dentary")






Original scientific description:

McNamara, J. C. (1997). Some smaller macropod fossils of South Australia. Proceedings of the Linnean Society of New South Wales 117: 97-106.


Other references:

Baynes, Alexander. (1987). The original mammal fauna of the Nullarbor and southern peripheral regions: evidence from skeletal remains in superficial cave deposits, pp. 139-152, 401-402. In: McKenzie, N. L. and Robinson, A. C. (eds.). A Biological Survey of the Nullarbor Region South and Western Australia in 1984. Adelaide: S. Aust. Dept. Environment and Planning.

Baynes, Alexander and Burbidge, Alan A. (2023). Nullarbor Dwarf Bettong, Bettongia pusilla, pp. 295-296. In: Baker, Andrew M. and Gynther, Ian C. (eds.). Strahan’s Mammals of Australia (4th ed.). Wahroonga, NSW: Reed New Holland Publishers. 848 pp.

Boscacci, L.J., McKenzie, N.L., and Kemper, C.M. 1987. Mammals. In: N.L. McKenzie and A.C. Robinson (eds), A biological survey of the Nullarbor region South and Western Australia in 1984, pp. 103-137. South Australian Department of Environment and Planning, Adelaide.

Burbidge, A.A., McKenzie, N.L., Brennan, K.E.C., Woinarski, J. C. Z., Dickman, C. R., Baynes, A., Gordon, G., Menkhorst, P.W. and Robinson, A.C. 2009. Conservation status and biogeography of Australia’s terrestrial mammals. Australian Journal of Zoology 56: 411-422.

Burbidge, A.A. & Woinarski, J. 2016. Bettongia pusilla. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T136805A21960843. Downloaded on 14 August 2018.

Fisher, Diana O. and Blomberg, Simon P. (2012). Inferring Extinction of Mammals from Sighting Records, Threats, and Biological Traits. Conservation Biology 26(1): 57-67.

Jackson, Stephen and Groves, Colin. (2015). Taxonomy of Australian Mammals. Clayton South, Melbourne: CSIRO Publishing. 529 pp. [p. 137]

Johnson, Chris N. (2006). Australia's Mammal Extinctions: A 50 000 Year History. Port Melbourne, Victoria: Cambridge University Press. x + 278 pp. [p. 176]

Lundelius, Ernest L. Jr. (1957). Additions to knowledge of the ranges of Western Australian mammals. The Western Australian Naturalist 5(7): 173-182.

Lundelius, Ernest L. jr. and Turnbull, W. D. (1984). The mammalian fauna of Madura Cave, Western Australia. Macropodidae: Potorinae. Fieldiana, Geology, new series no. 14. Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago.

Lundelius, Ernest L. jr. and W. D. Turnbull. (1989). The mammalian fauna of Madura Cave, Western Australia. Part VII: Macropodidae: Sthenurinae, Macropodinae, with a review of the marsupial portion of the fauna. Fieldiana, Geology, new series 17: 1-71.

Prideaux, G.J., J. A. Long, L. K. Ayliffe, J. C. Hellstrom, B. Pillans, W. E. Boles, M. N. Hutchinson, R. G. Roberts, M. L. Cupper, L. J. Arnold, P. D. Devine, and N. M. Warburton. (2007). An arid-adapted middle Pleistocene vertebrate fauna from south-central Australia. Nature 445: 422-425.

Tate, Ralph. (1879). The natural history of the company around the head of the Great Australian Bight. Transactions of the Royal Society of South Australia 2: 94-128. [p. 124]

Turvey, Samuel T. (2009). Holocene mammal extinctions, pp. 41-61. In: Turvey, Samuel T. (ed.). Holocene Extinctions. Oxford, UK & New York, USA: Oxford University Press. xii + 352 pp.

Turvey, Samuel T. and Fritz, Susanne A. (2011). The ghosts of mammals past: biological and geographical patterns of global mammalian extinction across the Holocene. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B 366(1577): 2564-2576. [Supplementary Information]

Woinarski, John C. Z., Braby, M. F., Burbidge, A. A., Coates, D., Garnett, S. T., Fensham, R. J., Legge, S. M., McKenzie, N. L., Silcock, J L. and Murphy, B. P. (2019). Reading the black book: The number, timing, distribution and causes of listed extinctions in Australia. Biological Conservation 239: 108261.


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