Temporal range: Albian
Archer, Flannery, Ritchie, & Molnar, 1985
Steropodon galmani was a prehistoric species of monotreme, or egg-laying mammal, that lived about 105 million years ago (mya) in the Lower Cretaceous period. It is one of the oldest monotremes discovered, and is one of the oldest Australian mammal discoveries.
The dentition of Steropodon is somewhat similar to that of therians—the placentals and the marsupials—specifically the presence of the tribosphenic molar tooth which was thought to be exclusive to therians since the Cretaceous. This, along with the tribosphenic molar discoveries of monotreme-relatives Ausktribosphenos and Ambondro of which the latter evolved in the Jurassic, led to the conclusion that the molar evolved independently in the two lineages. This inspired the creation of the subclasses Australosphenida—the monotremes and extinct relatives—and Tribosphenida—placentals and marsupials. However, given this classification is based only on jaw and lower-tooth remains, insufficient evidence may exist to definitively make this conclusion.
Steropodon is known only from a single opalised jaw with three molars, discovered at the Griman Creek Formation, Lightning Ridge, New South Wales, Australia, by brothers David and Alan Galman. It was a large mammal for the Mesozoic, being 40–50 centimetres (16–20 in) long. The lower molars are 5–7 millimetres (0.20–0.28 in) in length, with a width of 3–4 millimetres (0.12–0.16 in). A length of 1–2 centimetres (0.39–0.79 in) is more typical for Mesozoic mammals.
Woodburne (2003, p. 212) reports that the holotype is a right mandible named AM F66763. The preserved molars are m1–m3. Page 237 includes: "In Steropodon, the mandibular canal suggests the presence of a bill, with a bill also known in Obdurodon dicksoni and Ornithorhynchus anatinus."
- Mackness, Brian, Prehistoric Australia, Sydney, Golden Press, 1987.
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