Diprotodon optatum - Left upper first incisor (I1)

Specimen number: NHMUK PV M 100017

Specimen Link: http://data.nhm.ac.uk/object/dc4d2254-9ba1-4d30-b3af-b888f2b36434

Taxon: Diprotodon optatum

Description: Left upper first incisor (I1)

Site: Australia

Age: Pleistocene i.e., between 2.6 million years old and 11,700 years old

Collection: Unknown (before 1884)

Comments: This specimen was listed as an incisor (front tooth) of Toxodon platensis in the 1884 Royal College of Surgeons (RCS) catalogue and retained that identification until 2018 when Jerry Hooker and Pip Brewer from the Natural History Museum reassigned it. Presumably this specimen was located with other Darwin specimens (possibly to compare it with) at the RCS when the catalogue was being made and the specimen was incorrectly assumed to have been collected by Darwin.

Like Toxodon teeth, this tooth was hypselodont (also called euhypsodont), which means that unlike human teeth, it continued to grow throughout the life of the animal. This is an adaptation to high rates of tooth wear and is seen in other herbivorous (plant eating) mammals such as rabbits.

Diprotodon optatum was the largest Australian marsupial ('pouched' mammal) to have lived. It would have stood up to 2 m high at the shoulder and was up to 3 m in length. It was the first fossil mammal from Australia to have been described by Richard Owen, who also described and named the other fossil mammal specimens collected by Charles Darwin on the Voyage of the Beagle.

Cite this as

Pip Brewer, Kate Burton, Adrian Lister (2018). Dataset: Darwin's Fossil Mammals. Resource: Diprotodon optatum - Left upper first incisor (I1). Natural History Museum Data Portal (data.nhm.ac.uk). https://doi.org/10.5519/0086786

Retrieved: 06:24 25 May 2019 (GMT)

Additional Information

Last updated April 2, 2018
Created April 2, 2018
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License Creative Commons Non-Commercial (Any)
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