Potorous platyops (Gould, 1844:103)

Broad-faced potoroo, Broad-faced rat-kangaroo, moda, Broad-toothed Potoroo (idiosyncratic) (used by CALM, 1995), moda (Noongar), ?ngandalla (Barngarla (Eyre Peninsula); Schürmann, 1844)



Taxonomy & Nomenclature

Synonym/s: Hypsiprymnus platyops Gould, 1844:103 (basionym); Potorous morgani Finlayson, 1938:135; Potorous platyops morgani Finlayson, 1938:135; Potorus platyops (Gould, 1844:103) [orth. error used by Fraser & Wells, 2006:152]


Conservation Status


Last record: 1874/5 or before (specimen); 1875 (Johnson, 2006:169; Fisher & Blomberg, 2012); 1976 or 1977 (possible unconfirmed report)

IUCN RedList status: Extinct


Modern reports

According to (Thornback & Jenkins, 1984):

"In 1977 it was reported that a recent intensive search for the species conducted by the Western Australian Department of Fisheries and Wildlife had failed to locate it, though in the same year there were reports of a small mammal seen by loggers clear-felling in the Shannon Basin which may have been this species or the western subspecies of the Long-nosed Potoroo ([b]Potorous tridactylus gilberti[/b]) which has also not been collected since the last century [(Anonymous, 1977)]." (p. 43)


That recent intensive search by the WA Department of Fisheries and Wildlife involved expeditions to islands off the south-west coast that had never been searched previously (Anonymous, 1976b).



Western Australia (historically) and South Australia (including Kangaroo Island) (prehistorically), Australia

Type locality: "Walyema Swamps near Northam, W.A. (=Lake Walyormouring, W.A.)" (Calaby & Richardson, 1988:58) / "Walyema Swamps, about forty miles north-east of Northam, Western Australia"


Anatomy & Morphology

Body mass: 800gm (Johnson, 2006:169).


Biology & Ecology

"Ecology: temperate, terrestrial"

(Calaby & Richardson, 1988:58)



Holotype: (skull) / BMNH (skin) (adult female) (Calaby & Richardson, 1988:58)


Syntypes (morgani):

SAM. P.168 ("partial skull & mandible" (Calaby & Richardson, 1988:58); "skull and partial skeleton")
SAM. P.3413 (partial skull) (Calaby & Richardson, 1988:58)

Historical records:

The first specimens were collected by John Gilbert in 1842-43 near Goomalling and King George's Sound, in the Wheatbelt and south-west of WA, respectively. Masters then collected four specimens at King George's Sound and the Pallinup River.

Five specimens were received by the National Museum, Victoria from dealers in 1874 and 1875 (Ride, 1970:199). These seem to be the last record of the species, as a report of a specimen sent to the Zoological Society of London in 1908 (Glauert, 1933:26; Troughton, 1957:165) is probably a misidentified juvenile Quokka (Setonix brachyurus) (Ride, 1970:199; Calaby, 1971).


Prehistoric records

Remains from Yanchep, Western Australia were reported by (Archer, 1972). Butler and Merrilees (1971) reported remains from Bremer Bay in the same state. Kendrick & Porter (1974) a single molar tooth from north-western WA. Lundelius and Turnbull (1984) found the species in Madura Cave, same state. The only prehistoric mainland records from SA that I am aware of are (Wakefield, 1964; McDowell & Medlin, 2010; McDowell et al. 2012).


Kangaroo Island, South Australia

Another species of Potorous, P. morgani, was described from two subfossil skulls found in Kelly Hill Caves, Kangaroo Island, South Australia (Finlayson, 1938). Further remains of P. morgani were reported by (Cooper & Condon, 1947). However, this species was later synonymized with P. platyops (Ride, 1970:224; Calaby & Richardson, 1988), where it has since stayed. Additional specimens from the same site by Matthew McDowell, as well as from Cape du Couedic and Seton Rockshelter have been excavated (Haouchar et al. 2014; K. Walshe, pers. comm. May 2014).

Robinson and Kemper (1999) state:

"Since P. platyops is known only as a living animal from the south-west of Western Australia at the time of European settlement and no sightings were recorded of animals that fit its description, it is likely that it was already extinct on Kangaroo Island at that time." (p. 187)

More recent remains from Kangaroo Island have been reported by (Walshe, 2014) which show that it was present on Kangaroo Island post-European contact (contra Robinson & Kemper, 1999), and became extinct due to hunting pressure (K. Walshe, pers. comm. April 2014). The species may therefore be mentioned in early KI literature, however I know of no such mention, and clearly nor do (Robinson & Kemper, 1999:187).



Modern photos of the degraded habitat near Lake Walyormouring close to Goomalling where John Gilbert collected a specimen in 1842-43 have been taken by Dr. Rob Davis.



Original scientific description:

Gould, John. (1844). Exhibition and character of a number of animals, &c. transmitted from Australia by Mr. Gilbert. Proc. Zool. Soc. Lond. 1844: 103-107.


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