Essay about Placental Ruminants and Herbivorous Marsupials of Australia

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Placental Ruminants and Herbivorous Marsupials of Australia

The marsupial animal species that have evolved on the isolated continent of Australia are unique compared to the rest of the animal kingdom in many ways due to the harsh and distinctive environment found on the continent. The major area of marsupial biology that distinguishes them from all other eutherian mammals is their mode of reproduction. However, it can be said that there are many other areas in which unique differences can be seen between marsupials and eutherian mammals; one such area of adaptation is in the anatomy and physiology of digestion, which distinguishes them from many other similar animals worldwide.

The foregut fermenters, such as kangaroos and
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Introduction

While marsupial species can be found in both North and South America, neither can compare to the marsupial diversity of the isolated continent of Australia. With 180 Australian marsupial species, as opposed to 78 South American and 1 North American species, the ecological niches filled by marsupials in Australia are many and varied due to the lack of native eutherian mammals on the continent. Australian marsupials evolved special adaptations to survive in the harsh and distinctive environment found on the continent. The major area of marsupial biology that distinguishes them from all other eutherian mammals is their mode of reproduction. However, it can be said that there are many other areas in which unique differences can be seen between marsupials and eutherian mammals; one such area of adaptation is in the anatomy and physiology of digestion, which distinguishes them from many other similar animals worldwide. This paper will give a brief overview of the evolution and history of marsupials in Australia, and then compare the digestive systems adaptations of placental ruminants and herbivorous marsupials, with an emphasis on the foregut fermenters, kangaroos and wallabies.

Evolution of Herbivorous Marsupials and Ruminants

The first mammals to evolve from reptiles were small, carnivorous and were similar to extant monotremes. It is generally accepted that the first marsupials split from these early monotremes

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