Musky rat-kangaroo

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Musky rat-kangaroo[1]
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Infraclass: Marsupialia
Order: Diprotodontia
Suborder: Macropodiformes
Family: Hypsiprymnodontidae
Genus: Hypsiprymnodon
Ramsay, 1876
Species: H. moschatus
Binomial name
Hypsiprymnodon moschatus
Ramsay, 1876
Musky Rat Kangaroo area.png
Musky rat-kangaroo range

The musky rat-kangaroo (Hypsiprymnodon moschatus) is a marsupial species found only in the rainforests of northeast Australia. Although some scientists place this species as a subfamily (Hypsiprymnodontinae) of the family Potoroidae, the most recent classification[1] places it in the family Hypsiprymnodontidae with prehistoric rat-kangaroos.

The generic name combines the Ancient Greek hyps- (‘high’), prymnos (πρυμνός ‘hindmost’), and odōn (‘teeth’).[3] Its specific name, moschātus, is scientific Latin for ‘musk’.

Musky rat-kangaroo

It is the smallest macropod that is quadrupedal and only diurnal. The musky rat-kangaroo is about 21 to 34 cm long with a 6.5- to 12.3-cm-long hairless tail, weighs between 332 and 680 g,[4] and eats fallen fruit and large seeds, as well as small invertebrates.[5]

It moves by extending its body and then bringing both of its hind legs forward, and uses an opposable digit on the hind foot to climb trees.[5]

Living fossil[edit]

The rat-kangaroo has a number of unusual traits that are seen as linking it to more primitive marsupial ancestors. For example, it has reptile-like scales on its feet and tail, engages in a more primitive hopping behavior than most of its kangaroo cousins, and 5 toes on each foot.


  1. ^ Groves, C.P. (2005). Wilson, D.E.; Reeder, D.M., eds. Mammal Species of the World: A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference (3rd ed.). Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. p. 56. OCLC 62265494. ISBN 0-801-88221-4. 
  2. ^ Burnett, S.; Winter, J. & Martin, R. (2008). "Hypsiprymnodon moschatus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2008. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 29 December 2008. 
  3. ^ "Hypsiprymnodon". Merriam-Webster Dictionary.  Unabridged (subscription required)
  4. ^ Nowak, Ronald M. (2005) Walker's Marsupials of the World. Baltimore, USA: The Johns Hopkins University Press. pp. 149-150. ISBN 0-8018-8222-2.
  5. ^ a b McKay, G. (Ed.). (1999). Mammals (p. 60). San Francisco: Weldon Owen Inc. ISBN 1-875137-59-9

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