Physical characteristics

There is no mistaking a marsupial mole for any other Australian mammal. Both species have a body shaped like a flattened cylinder, with very short legs and a short, stiff tail. The body is covered in very fine, almost iridescent golden fur, which is often stained by the red desert soil. There are no visible eyes, just dark spots marking the place where vestigial lenses lie under the skin. The ears are mere holes in the side of the head, protected by dense fur. The only distinctive fea-

A marsupial mole's (Notoryctes typhlops) head and shoulders. (Photo by B. G. Thomson. Reproduced by permission.)

ture of the face is a horny, hairless nose-shield, slightly bigger in the southern species, N. typhlops.

There are five toes on each foot. On the front feet, the first and second toes oppose the others, and the third and fourth are big with very large, spade-like claws, used for digging. The fifth front toe is small, as are the first and fifth toes of the hind feet. The tail is annulated (ringed), with a knobbly end. Females have a rearward opening pouch concealing two teats.

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