Compiler and date details
October 2010 - Updated by Stephen M. Jackson, c/- Queensland Museum, Brisbane, following Van Dyck & Strahan (2008)
31 December 1998 - L.J. Dawson (1988); updated by Barry J. Richardson (1999), Centre for Biostructural and Biomolecular Research, University of Western Sydney, Hawkesbury, NSW, Australia
The three living species of wombat are all large (about one metre long and up to 35 kg in weight), stout, burrowing, diprotodont marsupials with small ears. They have thick, coarse fur ranging in colour from grey/black to ginger/brown without markings.
Among marsupials they are unique in having rodent-like dentition, with only one open-rooted upper incisor in each jaw, a long diastema, and continuously growing, open-rooted molars. The pouch opens backwards, as in the bandicoots and the koala. The family is thought to have diverged from a common ancestor with koalas in the early Tertiary.
Wombats are confined mostly to south-eastern mainland Australia and Tasmania. The common wombat, Vombatus ursinus, inhabits forest and woodland of the eastern ranges, while the hairy-nosed wombats inhabit more arid regions; Lasiorhinus latifrons is found in southern South Australia, extending westwards to the Nullabor Plain and Lasiorhinus krefftii occurs only as a relict, endangered population at Clermont in central Queensland. Ranges of all these species were more extensive in the late Pleistocene and a form of the Common Wombat also occurred in Western Australia.
Geographically separate populations of the common wombat previously have been recognized at specific and subspecific levels. The species is morphologically variable throughout its range and further taxonomic work is needed to establish whether it is indeed a homogeneous species.
Wells, R.T. 1989. Vombatidae. pp. 755-768 in Walton, D.W. & Richardson, B.J. (eds). Fauna of Australia. Mammalia. Canberra : Australian Government Publishing Service Vol. 1B 827 pp.
Wells, R.T. & Pridmore, P.A. (eds) 1998. Wombats. Chipping Norton : Surrey Beatty 332 pp.
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