The kangaroos arouse the curiosity of thousands of people. One of the main reasons is the fact that it is an animal almost exclusively from Australia and Papua New Guinea, where we can consider it as “The land of the kangaroo”.
To find them in other regions of the planet Earth only in zoos or in exhibitions. They are mammalian animals , from the group of marsupials, herbivores, with long tail, big eyes, fast and jumping, therefore, their legs are strong and resistant. Kangaroo chicks are born incomplete, that is, without hair and blind, after a gestation of one or two weeks.
According to the biologist, Karlla Patrícia, PhD in Zoology at the National Museum of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, and author of the blog ‘Diário de Biologia’, the kangaroos are animals of the macropodidae family (which means “big feet”) whose characteristic is to have the rear legs larger than the front.
In addition, females of the species have a kind of skin pouch scientifically called a baby carrier and popularly known as a pouch that serves to transport their young. The kangaroo, the cuíca, the possum, the koala and the Tasmanian devil, are examples of marsupials.
This bag is extremely important for the development of baby kangaroos, as the biologist Karlla Patrícia explains in her blog: “marsupials do not have a true placenta capable of providing nutrients for their young, pregnancies last for around four weeks and then a baby emerges from a birth canal and crawls by clinging to its mother’s hair until it reaches the pouch ”.
The expert points out that when he arrives at the baby carrier, “he still has the appearance of an embryo, however, they have well developed front legs that help in this process, they are very delicate, they weigh less than 1 gram. Once inside the bag, it attaches to the nipple and stays there, sucking the milk constantly. He will remain there for several months until he is fully formed and can move on his own ”.
Class of marsupials
The animal kingdom, especially the mammalian animal class, is divided into three subclasses: Allotheria (now extinct), Prototheria and Theria. The latter is divided into infraclass Methateria (marsupials) and Eutheria (placentals).
The term Marsupial refers to the presence of a “pouch” located in the inguinal region called a marsupium , a place where newborns complete their embryonic development. However, not all marsupials have marsupials, but this structure is one of the characteristic elements of this group.
Marsupials are mammals of primitive constitution with a small brain, previously elongated skull and tooth replacement restricted to the third premolar, which distinguishes them from placentals. Marsupials, such as possums, koalas and kangaroos, are taxonomically less diverse than placentals.
Marsupials have evolved to occupy the most varied niches, ranging from small insect eaters, through the niche of large carnivores and advancing towards the niche occupied by rodents . Some characteristics and behaviors are very similar to that of some placentals. Although the kangaroo is very different from an antelope or deer, for example, it lives very similarly to them.
When did they appear?
Kangaroos emerged in the early Miocene and reached great size in the Pleistocene. These more primitive animals foraged pastures where they used their powerful jaws to shred grass and leaves. Its skull was taller and shorter when compared to modern kangaroos.
The kangaroo began to diversify in Australia, millions of years ago, from species of marsupials that lived in South America. This hypothesis supports the idea that Brazilian marsupials (cuíca, possum and catita) form the oldest branch of this group of animals still with live representatives. The lineages that lived in Europe or Asia became extinct (only one lives in the United States and Canada), leaving only those from South America, Australia and New Guinea.
The procoptodon , the kangaroo-to-face-short Pleistocene, moved in quick jumps as do today’s kangaroos. An efficient mode of locomotion that allows you to reach speeds between 44 and 55 km / h over short distances.
Habitat, food and size
The kangaroo lives on the Australian and African plains . Their diet basically consists of vegetables and fruits available in their natural habitat. One of the most striking things about this animal is its mode of locomotion, as it jumps instead of walking on all fours, like most wild animals. They can weigh up to 90 kg and measure 1.60 meters in height.
Because they are not domestic animals, they are very skittish in the presence of humans. For this reason, they are generally observed from afar by scholars and tourists eager to see this curious, smart and beautiful animal up close.
Main species of kangaroos
There are many species of kangaroos, the best known are:
- Red kangaroo ( Macropus rufus )
- Eastern gray kangaroo ( Macropus giganteus )
- Western gray kangaroo ( Macropus fuliginosus )
- Antilopinous kangaroo ( Macropus antilopinus )
The red kangaroo is a large terrestrial herbivorous mammal, widely found in savanna and grassland environments. It is the largest of all kangaroos and therefore the largest native mammal in Australia. Standing, it can reach approximately 2 meters in height , however, the female can be up to a third smaller.
This type of kangaroo is found moving slowly in pastures, in contrast, in situations of escape, it can reach jumps of 10 meters high.
It is a herbivorous mammal, presenting a very varied diet, such as herbs, leaves, fruits, shoots, roots and bark of trees.
It is currently an endangered animal. Many hunters sell their meat and skin, in addition to being seen as animals that “hinder” sheep farming, as they consume much of the pasture that is used to feed these living beings.
Eastern gray kangaroo
The eastern gray kangaroo gets its name due to its geographic distribution. They are found in forest regions in Eastern Australia. Like all kangaroos, it is also an herbivorous mammal. However, this species has the characteristic of digging up some plants to feed on its roots .
They live an average of 18 years. Males measure approximately 1.60 meters in height and females, 1.50 meters. They can reach a speed of 50 km / h. It is not considered an endangered species.
Western gray kangaroo
The western gray kangaroo is often found throughout southern Australia and, to a lesser extent, north of the country. It is well known by Aboriginal Australians.
It feeds on a wide variety of herbs, but it also eats leaves from small trees and shrubs. It is a kind of daytime habits , with a thick gray coat.
The antilopine kangaroo is widely found living in flocks of up to 30 animals. It can be seen in fields, savannas, forests and woods. They are well suited for humid areas with a tropical climate. The increase in global temperature can be extremely harmful for this species.
- A curious fact of this animal is that they have a tail that helps with balance, as they stand with their two largest lower legs and the long tail serves as support
- The tail can measure up to 1.40 meters in length. The combination of legs and tail gives the kangaroo the ability to jump without falling off balance
- Some of them can reach the 2 meter high mark in a single jump
- The largest marsupial in the world is the red kangaroo
- Kangaroos are animals that have a habit of living in groups
- Kangaroos have been suffering from predatory hunting. Their meat and skin are commercialized.