Hulitherium tomasettii Flannery & Plane, 1986



Taxonomy & Nomenclature

Synonym/s: Hulitherium thomassetti Flannery & Plane, 1986 [orth. error used by Sutton et al., 2009]


Conservation Status


Last record: Late Pleistocene [U-series minimum age of 54.6 ± 1.6 (Prideaux et al., 2022)]



Pureni, New Guinea


Anatomy & Morphology

A mass of 150kg was given by (Johnson & Prideaux, 2004:557; Johnson, 2006:18).


Biology & Ecology

Suggestions that Hulitherium was an example of a convergent bamboo-eater with the panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca), hence its common name of Marsupial panda, are untested (White et al., 2021). Instead, it was likely a generalised browser capable of reaching higher vegetation given its large size (Ibid.). Bamboo may still have comprised part of its diet (Johnson, 2006:18; White et al., 2021).









Original scientific description:

Flannery, Timothy F. and Plane, M. (1986). A new late Pleistocene diprotodontid (Marsupialia) from Pureni, Southern Highlands Province, Papua New Guinea. Bur. Min. Res. J. Aust. Geol. Geophys. 10: 65-76.


Other references:

Black, K. (2008). Diversity, Phylogeny and Biostatigraphy of Diprotodontoids (Marsupialia: Diprotodontidae, Palorchestidae) from the Riversleigh World Heritage Area. University of New South Wales. Unpublished thesis.

Flannery, Timothy F. (1987). The mountain diprotodontid Hulitherium tomasettii, pp. 65-67. In: Hand, S. and Archer, M. (eds.). The Antipodean Ark. North Ryde: Angus and Robertson.

Flannery, Timothy F. (1994). The fossil land mammal record of New Guinea: A review. Science in New Guinea 20: 39-48.

Flannery, Timothy F. (1995). Mammals of New Guinea. 2nd ed. Chatswood, N.S.W.: Reed Books.

Johnson, Chris N. (2006). Australia's Mammal Extinctions: A 50 000 Year History. Port Melbourne, Victoria: Cambridge University Press. x + 278 pp. [p. 18]

Johnson, Chris N. and Prideaux, Gavin J. (2004). Extinctions of herbivorous mammals in the late Pleistocene of Australia in relation to their feeding ecology: no evidence for environmental change as cause of extinction. Australian Ecology 29: 553-557.

Menzies J. I. and Ballard, C. (1994). Some new records of Pleistocene megafauna from New Guinea. Sci. New Guinea 20: 113-139.

Murray, Peter F. (1992). The smallest New Guinea zygomaturines derived dwarfs or relict plesiomorphs? Beagle: The Records of the Museums and Art Galleries of the Northern Territory 9: 89-110. [Abstract]

Prideaux, Gavin J. et al. (2022). Re-evaluating the evidence for late-surviving megafauna at Nombe rockshelter in the New Guinea highlands. Archaeology in Oceania. doi:10.1002/arco.5274

Sutton, Alice, Mountain, Mary-Jane, Aplin, Ken, Bulmer, Susan and Denham, Tim. (2009). Archaeozoological records for the highlands of New Guinea: a review of current evidence. Australian Archaeology 69: 41-58.

White, Joshua M., DeSantis, Larisa R. G., Evans, Alistair Evans, Wilson, Laura A. B. and McCurry, Matthew R. (2021). A panda-like diprotodontid? Assessing the diet of Hulitherium tomasettii using dental complexity (Orientation Patch Count Rotated) and dental microwear texture analysis. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 583: 110675. [Abstract]


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