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Marsupials

The pouched mammals


The order Marsupialia is rarely used nowadays, as a new way of classifying marsupials has been gaining popularity with a seven-order system, instead of a one-order system. This new way is what I have used for my site, but because Marsupialia is also somewhat common, it is mentioned here.

Marsupials are a large, diverse group of animals found almost exclusively in Australia, although some species are found in North and South America. No marsupials can be found in Africa, Asia, or Europe, with the exception of a feral population of wallabies that escaped from a zoo in England. Marsupials are non-placental and give birth to premature young, which grab hold of the mother's nipple right after birth. In most species, the young can be found in a special pouch or fold of skin located on the back or belly. Marsupials have small brains compared to their body and are not considered to be very intelligent. In fact, it is suggested that they act like reptiles in that they don't think but only respond to stimuli. This order is very diverse, consisting of grazers, browsers, insectivores, and carnivores. Most marsupials resemble placental mammals in one form or another, including mice, rats, squirrels, dogs, cats, bears, shrews, and moles, although some are unique in appearance in the animal kingdom. Because of this diversity in appearance and food, the order Marsupialia is not very adequate, and the seven-order, 19- family system which divides up the order Marsupialia is becoming accepted. There are 250 species of marsupials, and they are divided into 12 families in the order Marsupialia. Below is the one-order method, followed by the seven-order method:

Sub-class Metatheria

Order Marsupialia
Burramyidae (pygmy possums) 8 spp
Caenolestidae (South American rat opossums) 7 spp
Dasyuridae (marsupial mice, marsupial carnivores) 61 spp
Didelphidae (New World opossums) 66 spp
Macropodidae (kangaroos, rat kangaroos, tree kangaroos, wallabies) 47 spp
Notoryctidae (marsupial moles) 2 spp
Peramelidae (bandicoots) 22 spp
Petauridae (gliders, ringtails) 25 spp
Phalangeridae (possums, cuscuses) 10 spp
Phascolarctidae (koalas) 1 spp
Tarsipedidae (honey possums) 1 spp
Vombatidae (wombats) 3 spp

7-Order System

Sub-class Metatheria

Order Didelphimorphia
Didelphidae (New World opossums) 66 spp

Order Paucituberculata
Caenolestidae (South American rat opossums) 7 spp

Order Microbiotheria
Microbiotheriidae (colocolo) 1 spp

Order Dasyuromorphia
Dasyuridae (dasyurids) 60 spp
Myrmecobiidae (numbats) 1 spp
Thylacinidae (Tasmanian wolf probably extinct) 1spp

Order Peramelemorphia
Peramelidae (bandicoots, bilbies) 10 spp
Peroryctidae (spiny bandicoots) 12 spp

Order Notoryctemorphia
Notoryctidae (marsupial moles) 2 spp

Order Diprotodontia
Pseudocheiridae (ringtails, gliders) 14 spp
Vombatidae (wombats) 3 spp
Acrobatidae (feathertail gliders) 2 spp
Petauridae (wrist-winged gliders, Leadbeater's possum) 10 spp
Macropodidae (kangaroos, wallabies, etc) 45 spp
Potoroidae (potoroos, rat kangaroos) 9 spp
Phascolarctidae (koalas) 1 spp
Phalangeridae (possums, cuscuses) 10 spp
Tarsipedidae (honey possum) 1 spp
Burramyidae (pygmy possums) 8 spp

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