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Marsupials are endemic to Australia and the Americas. They are a member of a mammal group called Marsupialia. Marsupials have one thing in common – most of the young members of the species are carried in a pouch. Kangaroos, koalas, and wombats are all considered to be marsupial animals.
See the fact file below for more information on the marsupials or alternatively, you can download our 23-page Marsupials worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
- The name marsupial comes from the marsupium, or pouch, in which the animals nurse and carry their young.
- Marsupials are identified as members of the mammalian infraclass Marsupialia. The marsupials later divided into two divisions, American marsupials (“Ameridelphia”) and Australian marsupials (“Australidelphia”).
- There are around 300 species in the Marsupialia group. Australia has about 120 species of marsupials, New Guinea has 53 species of marsupials, South and Central America have 90 species of marsupials, and North America has only two species of marsupials. It is noted that marsupials in Australia share the same DNA origin as marsupials in South America.
- There are many sub-species in each group. American species use the term “opossum”, while Australian species are called “possums”.
- Marsupials inherit typical characteristics of mammals, such as true hair, middle ear bones, and mammary glands. However, the front pouch that is used to carry their young makes them different from other mammals.
- A marsupial’s skull shape is relatively small and tight. In many cases, marsupials used to have 40 to 50 teeth, which is far more than other common types of mammals.
- The marsupial pouch develops during gestation. This pouch protects the offspring. Usually, only females have a pouch.
- Marsupials have different reproductive systems compared to placental mammals. The female marsupials have two uteri and two vaginas. Before giving birth, a birth canal forms between them.
- Marsupials give birth at a very early stage of development. They do not have long gestation times like placental mammals. Instead, they give birth very early, and the young animal climbs from the mother’s birth canal to the nipples.
- When marsupials are born, they exist in an embryonic state. Their eyes, ears, and rear limbs are still poorly developed. These parts will continue to develop after they are nourished by their mother’s milk.
- The male marsupials have a split or double penis lying in front of the scrotum.
HABITAT AND DIET
- Marsupials have adapted to many habitats, which is reflected in their wide variety. The largest living marsupial is the red kangaroo, which grows up to 1.8 meters and weighs up to 90 kilograms. The smallest marsupial often reaches only 5 cm in body length.
- Most marsupials are herbivores. They are grass eaters, but some of them can eat tiny insects.
EARLY DEVELOPMENT OF YOUNG MARSUPIALS
- An infant marsupial is known as a joey. In some species, joeys stay in the pouch for up to a year, or until the next joey is born. A marsupial joey relies on an external heat source since it is unable to control its own body temperature.
- Until the joey is well-furred and old enough to leave the pouch, the marsupial mother maintains the pouch temperature to keep the infant warm.
- Most marsupials are nocturnal. They are night creatures, and their sense of smell and hearing are their most important senses.
- Marsupials can differentiate between their neighbors, whether they are boys or girls and if they are a stranger to the group. They can also sense emotions with their extra scent glands.
THE MARSUPIAL DISCOVERY
- The existence of marsupials was discovered in the late 1400s by Vicente Yáñez Pinzón, commander of the Niña on Christopher Columbus’ first voyage mission. He collected a female opossum with young in her pouch at the Brazillian coast.
- Pinzón later presented the possum to the Spanish monarchs. The animal was noted for its strange pouch, or “second belly”, and how the offspring reached the pouch was a mystery.
- In the 17th century, more accounts of marsupials appeared. Marsupials were also found in New Guinea.
This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about the marsupials across 23 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use Marsupials worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about the marsupials which are endemic to Australia and the Americas. They are a member of a mammal group called Marsupialia. Marsupials have one thing in common – most of the young members of the species are carried in a pouch. Kangaroos, koalas, and wombats are all considered to be marsupial animals.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- Marsupials Facts
- Memories of Marsupials
- Know the Members
- The Marsupial Group
- Australia Endemic Animals
- True Facts About Marsupials
- Trip to Conservation Center!
- Marsupials News!
- True or False
- Draw Their Habitat
- Marsupial Secrets
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Link will appear as Marsupials Facts & Worksheets: https://kidskonnect.com - KidsKonnect, October 2, 2020
Use With Any Curriculum
These worksheets have been specifically designed for use with any international curriculum. You can use these worksheets as-is, or edit them using Google Slides to make them more specific to your own student ability levels and curriculum standards.