Fossil trove reveals three new species of ancient egg-laying mammals

Illustration of six ancient monotreme species whose fossilised remains were found at Lightning Ridge, Australia

Illustration by Peter Shouten

From inside an old safe in the Australian Museum in Sydney, palaeontologist Tim Flannery carefully removes a shoe-box-sized container and places it on a table. Inside are more boxes and containers, like a Russian doll.

Once the contents are fully revealed and spread out, there are nine tiny fragments of fossilised jawbones. If Flannery and his colleagues are right, before us is a glimpse into a lost world – a previously unknown chapter of mammal…

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