Long Before The Dinosaurs

Ancient invertebrates of the Porongurup

Relicts from the Gondwanan supercontinent

Formed around 1.2 billion years ago, the Porongurup Range is one of the oldest mountain ranges in the world. The original large mountains have eroded away to the rounded granites we see today, but the range still holds ancient lifeforms, including velvet worms, giant earthworms and trapdoor spiders. The ancestors of these species existed before the separation of the Gondwanan supercontinent, around 180 million years ago. Velvet worms are thought to have changed very little since they emerged some 500 million years ago. They have outlived many other animal groups, including dinosaurs which appeared about 230 million years ago and were extinct by around 66 million years ago. 

The Beutelius rutherfordi beetle, found in 2021 during a fauna survey in bush just north of the Porongurup Range, has ancestral roots that date back almost 200 million years.

 Further reading

Morris, A 2021, ‘Beetlemania: Living Fossil Found in the Porongurup’, Aurora, April, pp. 20‒21

An Australian Museum fact sheet: Velvet worm – The Australian Museum

Mygalomorph spiders observed in Porongurup: Observations · iNaturalist

Velvet Worms observed in Porongurup: Observations · iNaturalist

Beutelius rutherfordi in Porongurup: Observations · iNaturalist

Friends of the Porongurup Range Fauna blog, including Beutelius rutherfordi: Porongurup Fauna Blog

Australian Heritage Database: Porongurup National Park, National Heritage List assessment            

A 62 minute lecture by Dr Mark Harvey, Senior Curator, Terrestrial Zoology, WA Museum: New Discoveries In The World Around Us – YouTube