Australian Biological Resources Study

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Family POTOROIDAE


Compiler and date details

October 2010 - Updated by Stephen M. Jackson, c/- Queensland Museum, Brisbane, following Van Dyck and Strahan (2008)

31 December 1998 - J.H. Calaby & B.J. Richardson (1988); updated by Barry J. Richardson (1999), Centre for Biostructural and Biomolecular Research, University of Western Sydney, Hawkesbury, NSW, Australia

Introduction

For the past decade this family is usually separated from the Macropodidae (Aplin & Archer 1987), though recent molecular studies do not support such an arrangement. Two, only distantly related, extant groups are presently included in the family. The first of these, the subfamily Hypsiprymnodontinae, consists of a single extant species in the genus Hypsiprymnodon which Kirsch et al. (1997), based on molecular evidence, place in a separate family, the Hypsyprymnodontidae. The subfamily Potoroinae presently contains all the remaining extant genera and includes eight Recent species. It is probably a paraphyletic group.

Hypsiprymnodon is the most primitive member of the Macropodoidea. Its characteristics include: front and hind limbs almost equal in length, a quadrupedal bound at speed rather than the hopping gait of the rest of the group, a mobile first toe on the hind foot and a simple stomach. The Potoroinae, however, have many characteristics in common with the Macropodidae including forelimbs much shorter than hind limbs with the latter adapted to hopping, a large, heavy tail used for balancing when hopping, a large fourth toe, no first toe and a large sacculated stomach used for pregastric digestion.

The Potoroidae can be distinguished readily from Macropodidae as the molars are quadrituberculate and decrease in size backwards, the premolar is large and blade-like, the first upper incisor is larger than the other two and the frontal and squamosal meet (separating the parietal and alisphenoid bones). The specialized female urogenital system has an enlarged anterior region in the vaginal complex, fusion of the posterior parts of the lateral vaginae, a relatively short urogenital sinus and a very long urethra.

Potoroids build nests of grass and herbage and one species burrows. They are mainly herbivorous though their diet also includes insects, fruit, seeds, roots and fungi.

 

General References

Aplin, K.P. & Archer, M. 1987. Recent advances in marsupial systematics with a new syncretic classification. pp. xv-lxxii in Archer, M. (ed.). Possums and Opossums: studies in evolution. Sydney : Surrey Beatty & Sons with the Royal Zoological Society of New South Wales 2 vols lxxii 788 pp.

Baudinette, R.V. 1994. Locomotion in macropodoid marsupials: gaits, energetics and heat balance. Australian Journal of Zoology 42: 103-124

Ganslosser, U. 1992. Behavioural data support the currently proposed phylogeny of the Macropodoidea (Marsupialia). Australian Mammalogy 15: 89-104

Grigg, G., Jarman, P. & Hume, I. (eds) 1989. Kangaroos, Wallabies and Rat-Kangaroos. Sydney : Australian Mammal Society and Surrey Beatty 835 pp.

Jarman, P.J. 1991. Social behaviour and organisation in the Macropodoidea. pp. 1-50 in Slater, P.J.B., Rosenblatt, J.S., Beer, C. & Milinski, M. (eds). Advances in the study of behaviour. San Diego : Academic Press Vol. 20.

Seebeck, J.H. & Rose, R.W. 1989. Potoroidae. pp. 716-739 in Walton, D.W. & Richardson, B.J. (eds). Fauna of Australia. Mammalia. Canberra : Australian Government Publishing Service Vol. 1B 827 pp.

Short, J., Bradshaw, S.D., Giles, J., Prince, R.I.T. & Wilson, G. 1992. Reintroduction of macropods (Marsupialia: Macropodoidea) in Australia - a review. Biological Conservation 62: 189-204

 

History of changes

Note that this list may be incomplete for dates prior to September 2013.
Published As part of group Action Date Action Type Compiler(s)
29-Oct-2010 29-Oct-2010 MOVED
12-Feb-2010 (import)