Members of this marsupial family make up a fairly diverse group of around 18 species placed in 6 genera. They inhabit Australia, and New Guinea and several smaller islands. These are medium-sized animals with a stocky and powerful body, short face, eyes directed forward, and a prominent rhinarium. They have a relatively long tail, which is heavily furred in some species and prehensile in most. All phalangerids are good climbers, although some tend to be semi-terrestrial. The first 2 digits of their forefeet are opposable to the other three in the more arboreal species. This is not the case for brushtail possums, which are relatively terrestrial. As is true of all members of their order, they are diprotodont and their hind feet are syndactylous.
Phalangerids have bilobed, bunodont molars. The upper third premolar is strikingly plagiaulacoid. The dental formula is 3/2, 1/0, 1/1-2, 4/4 = 34-36. Their skulls are strongly built, flattened in profile, with deep zygomatic arches.
Members of this family have a well developed marsupium that opens anteriorly. They usually give birth to a single young per litter. They are omnivores, foraging nocturnally or around dawn and dusk. One species, the brush-tailed possum (Trichosurus vulpecula), often lives arounds houses and feeds on cultivated plants.
brush tail possum
Family Acrobatidae Family Burramyidae Family Macropodidae Family Petauridae Family Phalangeridae Family Phascolarctidae Family Potoroidae Family Pseudocheiridae Family Tarsipedidae Family Vombatidae
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