For some time now, the mysterious origins of the Australian marsupial moles have been unknown due to a lack of scientific findings but with the new discovery of a fossil that has been identified as one of their ancestors, new information has now put researchers on the right track it seems.

While the living species of marsupial moles are blind, do not have ears and live underground in the deserts of South Australia, Western Australia and the Northern Territory, one would have expected this fossil to have been found anywhere but the lush rainforest areas of north Queensland.

The fossil, in particular, has been found by a team led by Professor Mike Archer from the University of New South Wales at the Riversleigh World Heritage fossil site, and the findings have been published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

While the marsupial mole shares many similarities with the Cape golden mole (such as their teeth and skeleton) and are indistinguishable when compared for physical characteristics when placed side-by-side, Professor Archer thinks that both these species (although, very different now) have evolved from one ancestor from as far back as 125 million years ago.

And this similarity in anatomy (the specialized V-shaped teeth, for example) can be attributed to the similar lifestyles that both these animals have despite being very different, thanks to the different routes that evolution has led each species to.

Archer also says that it was always assumed that the marsupial moles’ ancestors hailed from an ancient Australian desert but with this discovery, all that has changed with the emergence of new facts.

According to the co-author of this study, Dr. Robin Beck of the American Museum of Natural History, “This ancient link makes it clear that marsupials followed a completely different path from placentals but ended up with almost identical-looking teeth."

And while the discovery of the fossil shows how specialized the marsupial mole is in this day and age, the co-author of this study [Professor Suzanne Hand] says that this finding has clearly shown how adaptive the marsupial mole actually has been to the evolutionary challenges in the adequate amount of time that has been given to them as well.