name = MacropodsMSW3 Groves|pages=58-70]
fossil_range=Late Oligocene - Recent

image_width = 200px
image_caption = Red-necked Wallaby
regnum = Animalia
phylum = Chordata
classis = Mammalia
infraclassis = Marsupialia
ordo = Diprotodontia
subordo = Macropodiformes
familia = Macropodidae
familia_authority = Gray, 1821
subdivision_ranks = Genera
subdivision =

Macropods are marsupials belonging to the family Macropodidae, which includes kangaroos, wallabies, tree-kangaroos, pademelons, and several others. Before European settlement, there were about 53 species of Macropods. Six species have since become extinct. Another 11 species have been greatly reduced in numbers. Other species (e.g. "Simosthenurus", "Propleopus", "Macropus titan") went extinct after the Australian Aborigines arrived and before Europeans arrived.

Physical description

Macropods are herbivorous: some are browsers, but most are grazers and are equipped with appropriately specialised teeth for cropping and grinding up fibrous plants, in particular grasses and sedges. In general, macropods have a broad, straight row of cutting teeth at the front of the mouth, no canine teeth, and a gap before the molars. The molars are large and, unusually, do not appear all at once but a pair at a time at the back of the mouth as the animal ages, eventually becoming worn down by the tough, abrasive grasses and falling out. Most species have four molars and, when the last pair is too worn to be of use, they starve. The dental formula for macropods is:dentition|3.0-1.2.4|

Like the eutherian ruminants of the northern hemisphere (sheep, cattle, and so on), macropods have specialised digestive systems that use a high concentration of bacteria, protozoans, and fungi in the first chamber of a complex stomach to digest plant material. The details of organisation are quite different, but the end result is somewhat similar.

Macropods vary in size considerably but most have very large hind legs and a long, powerfully muscled tail. The term "macropod" comes from the Greek for "long foot" and is appropriate: most have a very long, narrow hind foot with a distinctive arrangement of toes: the fourth toe is very large and strong, the fifth toe moderately so, the second and third are fused and the first toe is usually missing. The short front legs have five separate digits. Some macropods have 7 carpal bones instead of the usual 8 in mammals [] . All have relatively small heads and most have large ears, except for tree-kangaroos, which must move quickly between tight branches. The young are born very small and the pouch opens forward.

The unusual development of the hind legs is optimised for economical long distance travel at fairly high speed. The greatly elongated feet provide enormous leverage for the strong legs. But there is more to the famous kangaroo hop: kangaroos and wallabies have a unique ability to store elastic strain energy in their tendons. In consequence, most of the energy required for each hop is provided "free" by the spring action of the tendons (rather than by muscular effort). The main limitation on a macropod's ability to leap is not the strength of the muscles in the hindquarters. It is the ability of the joints and tendons to withstand the strain of hopping.

In addition, there is a linkage between the hopping action and breathing. As the feet leave the ground, air is expelled from the lungs by what amounts to an internal piston; bringing the feet forward ready for landing fills the lungs again, providing further energy efficiency. Studies of kangaroos and wallabies have demonstrated that, beyond the minimum energy expenditure required to hop at all, increased speed requires very little extra effort (much less than the same speed increase in, say, a horse, a dog, or a human), and also that little extra energy is required to carry extra weight — something that is of obvious importance to females carrying large pouch young.

The ability of larger macropods to survive on poor-quality, low-energy feed, and to travel long distances at high speed without great energy expenditure (to reach fresh food supplies or waterholes, and to escape predators) has been crucial to their evolutionary success on a continent that, because of soil fertility and low, unpredictable average rainfall, offers only very limited primary plant productivity.

Gestation in macropods lasts about a month, being slightly longer in the largest species. Typically, only a single young is born, weighing less than a gram at birth. They soon attach themselves to one of four teats inside the mother's pouch. The young leave the pouch after 5-11 months, and are weaned after a further 2-6 months. Macropods reach sexual maturity at 1-3 years of age, depending on species.cite book |editor=Macdonald, D.|author= Poole, William E.|year=1984 |title= The Encyclopedia of Mammals|publisher= Facts on File|location=New York|pages= 862-871|isbn= 0-87196-871-1]

Fossil record

The earliest known fossil macropod dates back about 11.61mya to 28.4mya, either in the Miocene or Late Oligocene, and was uncovered in South Australia. Unfortunately, the fossil could not be identified any further than the family. A Queensland fossil of a species similar to "Hadronomas" has been dated at around 5.33mya to 11.61mya, falling in the Late Miocene or Early Pliocene. The earliest completely identifiable fossils are from around 5.33mya. [ The Paleobiology Database ] ]


There are two subfamilies in the Macropodidae family: the Sthenurinae was highly successful in the Pleistocene but is now represented by just a single species, and a vulnerable one at that, the Banded Hare-wallaby; the remainder, about 60 species, makes up the subfamily Macropodinae.

* FAMILY MACROPODIDAEcite web | author = Haaramo, M. | date = 2004-12-20 | accessdate = 2007-03-15 | title = Mikko's Phylogeny Archive: Macropodidae - kenguroos | url =]
** Genus †"Watutia"
** Genus †"Dorcopsoides"
** Genus †"Kurrabi"
** Subfamily Sthenurinae
*** Genus †"Hadronomas"
*** Genus †"Eosthenurus"
*** Genus †"Sthenurus"
*** Genus †"Procoptodon"
*** Genus †"Nambaroo"
*** Genus †"Wururoo"
*** Genus †"Ganawamaya"
*** Genus †"Balbaroo"
*** Genus †"Silvaroo"
*** Genus "Lagostrophus"
**** Banded Hare-wallaby, "Lagostrophus fasciatus"
** Subfamily Macropodinae
*** Genus †"Prionotemnus"
*** Genus †"Congruus"
*** Genus †"Baringa"
*** Genus †"Bohra"
*** Genus †"Synaptodon"
*** Genus †"Fissuridon"
*** Genus †"Protemnodon"
*** Genus †"Troposodon"
*** Genus "Dendrolagus": tree-kangaroos
**** Grizzled Tree-kangaroo, "Dendrolagus inustus"
**** Lumholtz's Tree-kangaroo, "Dendrolagus lumholtzi"
**** Bennett's Tree-kangaroo, "Dendrolagus bennettianus"
**** Ursine Tree-kangaroo, "Dendrolagus ursinus"
**** Matschie's Tree-kangaroo, "Dendrolagus matschiei"
**** Doria's Tree-kangaroo, "Dendrolagus dorianus"
**** Goodfellow’s Tree-kangaroo, "Dendrolagus goodfellowi"
**** Lowlands Tree-kangaroo, "Dendrolagus spadix"
**** Golden-mantled Tree-kangaroo, "Dendrolagus pulcherrimus"
**** Seri's Tree-kangaroo, "Dendrolagus stellarum"
**** Dingiso, "Dendrolagus mbaiso"
**** Tenkile, "Dendrolagus scottae"
*** Genus "Dorcopsis"
**** Brown Dorcopsis, "Dorcopsis muelleri"
**** White-striped Dorcopsis, "Dorcopsis hageni"
**** Black Dorcopsis, "Dorcopsis atrata"
**** Gray Dorcopsis, "Dorcopsis luctuosa"
*** Genus "Dorcopsulus"
**** Small Dorcopsis, "Dorcopsulus vanheurni"
**** Macleay's Dorcopsis, "Dorcopsulus macleayi"
*** Genus "Lagorchestes"
**** †Lake Mackay Hare-wallaby, †"Lagorchestes asomatus"
**** Spectacled Hare-wallaby, "Lagorchestes conspicillatus"
**** Rufous Hare-wallaby, "Lagorchestes hirsutus"
**** †Eastern Hare-wallaby, †"Lagorchestes leporides"
*** Genus "Macropus"
**** Subgenus "Notamacropus"
***** Agile Wallaby, "Macropus agilis"
***** Black-striped Wallaby, "Macropus dorsalis"
***** Tammar Wallaby, "Macropus eugenii"
***** †Toolache Wallaby, †"Macropus greyii"
***** Western Brush Wallaby, "Macropus irma"
***** Parma Wallaby, "Macropus parma" (rediscovered, thought extinct for 100 years)
***** Pretty-faced Wallaby, "Macropus parryi"
***** Red-necked Wallaby, "Macropus rufogriseus"
**** Subgenus "Osphranter"
***** Antilopine Kangaroo, "Macropus antilopinus"
***** Woodward's Wallaroo, "Macropus bernadus"
***** Eastern Wallaroo, "Macropus robustus"
***** Red Kangaroo, "Macropus rufus"
**** Subgenus "Macropus"
***** Western Grey Kangaroo, "Macropus fuliginosus"
***** Eastern Grey Kangaroo, "Macropus giganteus"
*** Genus "Onychogalea"
**** Bridled Nail-tail Wallaby, "Onychogalea fraenata"
**** †Crescent Nail-tail Wallaby, †"Onychogalea lunata"
**** Northern Nail-tail Wallaby, "Onychogalea unguifera"
*** Genus "Petrogale"
**** "P. brachyotis" species-group
***** Short-eared Rock-wallaby, "Petrogale brachyotis"
***** Monjon, "Petrogale burbidgei"
***** Nabarlek, "Petrogale concinna"
**** "P. xanthopus" species-group
***** Proserpine Rock-wallaby, "Petrogale persephone"
***** Rothschild's Rock-wallaby, "Petrogale rothschildi"
***** Yellow-footed Rock-wallaby, "Petrogale xanthopus"
**** "P. lateralis/penicillata" species-group
***** Allied Rock-wallaby, "Petrogale assimilis"
***** Cape York Rock-wallaby, "Petrogale coenensis"
***** Godman's Rock-wallaby, "Petrogale godmani"
***** Herbert's Rock-wallaby, "Petrogale herberti"
***** Unadorned Rock-wallaby, "Petrogale inornata"
***** Black-flanked Rock-wallaby, "Petrogale lateralis"
***** Mareeba Rock-wallaby, "Petrogale mareeba"
***** Brush-tailed Rock-wallaby, "Petrogale penicillata"
***** Purple-necked Rock-wallaby, "Petrogale purpureicollis"
***** Mt. Claro Rock-wallaby, "Petrogale sharmani"
*** Genus "Setonix"
**** Quokka: "Setonix brachyurus"
*** Genus "Thylogale"
**** Tasmanian Pademelon, "Thylogale billardierii"
**** Brown's Pademelon, "Thylogale browni"
**** Dusky Pademelon, "Thylogale brunii"
**** Calaby's Pademelon, "Thylogale calabyi"
**** Mountain Pademelon, "Thylogale lanatus"
**** Red-legged Pademelon, "Thylogale stigmatica"
**** Red-necked Pademelon, "Thylogale thetis"
*** Genus "Wallabia"
**** Swamp Wallaby or Black Wallaby, "Wallabia bicolor"

See also

* Australian megafauna
* Macropod hybrids


External links

* [ Australian Department of the Environment and Heritage]

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Look at other dictionaries:

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