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family potoroidae


(Rat-kangaroos, potoroos, bettongs)

The potoroids are a family of diprotodont marsupials believed to be closely allied with the kangaroos and wallabies (Macropodidae) and sometimes grouped as a subfamily within that family. The Potoroidae includes 9 species placed in 5 genera. They are found in Australia.

Like macropodids, these small and secretive animals are diprotodont and syndactylous. Also like macropodids, they have enlarged hind feet and powerful hind limbs. At high speeds they are adept hoppers. At slower speeds, their movement is more rabbit-like; they land with their weight on their forelimbs as well as hind, then transfer weight to the hindlimbs for the next hop. The forelimbs are smaller than the hindlimbs, but the disparity in size is not as great as in kangaroos and wallabies. As in the case of macropodid hind feet, the fourth toe is the longest and strongest. It sits in a line with main limb elements and transmits thrust of hopping. It is not as well developed, however, as the fourth toe in macropodids. The tail is semiprehensile.

The dental forrmula of potoroids is 3/1, 1-0/0 2/2, 4/4 = 32-34. The second and third upper incisors are small and placed lateral to and behind the first incisor, not lateral as in macropodids. In other respects, the skull is simiilar to that of kangaroos. Canines are present and well large. The molars are stationary, that is, they don't show pattern of forward movement with aging that is seen in macropodids. Potoroids also possess anterior premolars that are lost in macropodids.

Members of this family are omnivores and herbivores, feeding mainly on underground fungi and tubers also taking some seeds and insects. They have a well developed marsupial pouch that opens anteriorly. Their reproductive pattern includes an embryonic diapause like that of macropodids. Their stomachs are less elaborately pouched than those of macropodids; instead, they are unspecialized in some species and with a few simple chambers (with bacterial fermentation) in others.

Several members of this family have not fared well following the European colonization of Australia. Two species are believed to be extinct and two additional species are currently threatened with extinction.

bettong

potoroo

rat kangaroo


Family Acrobatidae
Family Burramyidae
Family Macropodidae
Family Petauridae
Family Phalangeridae
Family Phascolarctidae
Family Potoroidae
Family Pseudocheiridae
Family Tarsipedidae
Family Vombatidae

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ARTIODACTYLA CARNIVORA CETACEA CHIROPTERA DASYUROMORPHIA DERMOPTERA DIDELPHIMORPHI DIPROTODONTIA HYRACOIDEA INSECTIVORA LAGOMORPHA MACROSCELIDEA MICROBIOTHERIA MONOTREMATA NOTORYCTEMORPHIA PAUCITUBERCULATA PERAMELEMORPHIA PERISSODACTYLA PHOLIDOTA PRIMATES PROBOSCIDEA RODENTIA SCANDENTIA SIRENIA TUBULIDENTATA XENARTHRA

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