Class Mammalia Order Diprotodontia Family Macropodidae

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Kangaroos, wallabies, and tree kangaroos are a diverse group of herbivorous terrestrial and arboreal marsupials; universally have strongly developed hind legs and long tails; all members of the family are furred and have prominent ears and thin necks


Head and body length ranges from 11 to 91 in (290-2,300 mm); tail length ranges from 6 to 43 in (150-1,090 mm); weight from 3 to 187 lb (1.4-85 kg)

Number of genera, species

11 genera; 62 species


Found in almost all habitat types, from rainforests to deserts; some degree of habitat specificity occurs within particular genera

Conservation status

Extinct: 4 species; Endangered: 7 species; Vulnerable: 9 species; Lower Risk/Near Threatened: 11 species; Data Deficient: 3 species


Australia, New Guinea, parts of Irian Jaya, and several Indonesian islands. Introduced into Britain, Germany, Hawaii, and New Zealand


Australia, New Guinea, parts of Irian Jaya, and several Indonesian islands. Introduced into Britain, Germany, Hawaii, and New Zealand

Evolution and systematics

The family Macropodidae is the largest family in the order Diprotodontia. This large and diverse order contains the two suborders, Vombatiformes, including the koala and wombats, and Phalangerida, which includes the possums, gliders, potoroos, kangaroos, wallabies, and tree kangaroos. As the order Diprotodontia sits within the subclass Marsupialia, the kangaroos, wallabies, and tree kangaroos also have strong evolutionary links to the other elements of the native Australian mammal fauna, including the carnivorous marsupials, bandicoots and bilbies. The Macropodidae have been classified into two subfamilies, the Sthenurinae and the Macropodinae. The fossil records indicate that the Sthenurinae was a successful group during the Pleistocene when it had at least 20 species. It is now represented by a single species, the banded hare-wallaby (Lagostrophus fasciatus). The remaining living members of the family, which includes 61 individual species from 10 separate genera, all comprise the subfamily Macropodinae. This diverse subfamily is most often treated as eight subgroups on the basis of distinctive associations within the separate genera. These subgroups are: typical kangaroos and wallabies of the genus Macropus (14 species); anomalous wal labies, including the two monospecific genera, Wallabia and Setonix; rock wallabies of the genus Petrogale (16 species); pademelons of the genus Thylogale (six species); nail-tailed wallabies of the genus Onychogalea (three species); true hare-wallabies of the genus Lagorchestes (four species); tree kangaroos of the genus Dendrolagus (10 species); and New Guinea forest wallabies, including the genera, Dorcopsis (four species) and Dorcopsulus (two species).

Physical characteristics

While there is dramatic diversity within the family, the general body shape, incorporating strongly developed hind limbs that make the forelimbs and upper body look small, a long tail, and prominent ears, is shared by all members. The family name Macropodidae is actually derived from the word Macropus, which means "big foot" in reference to the characteristic long hind feet that enables the kangaroos, wallabies, and tree kangaroos to adopt their characteristic hopping gait. Kangaroos are, in fact, the largest mammals to hop on both feet. Hopping is not, however, the only way that the members of this diverse family get about. In contrast to their

Kangaroo Locomotion

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