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Diprotodonts

(Order: Diprotodontia)

Diprotodonts are largely herbivorous marsupials grouped within the order Diprotodontia (derived from Greek and translating as “two forward teeth”). There are around 155 species within the order.

In addition to the kangaroos, perhaps the most well-known member of this order is the Koala.

The Koala is famed throughout the world and is often, mistakenly, called a bear. The Koala lives solely on a low energy diet of eucalypt leaves and spends up to 20 hours per day sleeping. Perhaps more sloth-like in habits than bear-like, but nonetheless a marsupial that has a pouch for protecting the newborn young (joey), that are born in the very early stages of development and develop in the mother’s pouch for around 6 months. Bears are eutherian mammals, which have a placenta to nourish the young as they develop within the body, and give birth to their young at a well-developed stage.

Animals like Procoptodon goliah (a 200kg, 2 metre tall kangaroo), Zygomarturus trilobus (a 500kg, 2.5 metre long ‘wombat-like’ diprotodontid) and Thylacoleo carnifex (a 160kg, 1.5 metre long marsupial lion), are all extinct members of this group.

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