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Marsupial Moles: Notoryctemorphia - Physical Characteristics

sand found claws probably

Marsupial moles, also called blind sand burrowers, are unusual and rarely seen animals found in Australia. Marsupial moles are about 4 to 6 inches (10 to 15 centimeters) long and weigh only 1 to 2.5 ounces (40 to 70 grams). They have fine golden fur, and are shaped like flattened cylinders.

The body of the marsupial mole shows many adaptations that allow it to live almost its entire life underground. These moles have five toes on each foot. On the front feet, toes three and four are enlarged and have triangular, spade-like claws that are used for digging. The animals have no functional eyes. Only a dark spot marks where the remains of an eye can be found under the skin. In addition, marsupial moles have no external ears, although they do have ear openings under the fur, and it is believed that they can hear. Five of the animal's seven neck vertebrae, neck bones, are fused, or joined together, probably to strengthen the head so that it can push through sand.

A horny shield somewhat like a thick fingernail protects the nose. The nose openings or nostrils are small slits, probably to prevent them from filling with sand as the animal digs. Female marsupial moles also have a backward-opening pouch in which they carry their young. Again, this is probably an adaptation so that the pouch does not fill with sand as they move forward. The tail is short, less than 1 inch (2.5 centimeters), hairless, and covered with a leathery skin and ends in a hard, horny knob.

Genetic studies show that marsupial moles are not closely related to any other Australian marsupial. In 1987 a fossil marsupial mole was found at Riversleigh, an area that was known to be a rainforest habitat millions of years ago. Scientists think that this fossil mole used its broad claws to burrow through leaves and moss on the forest floor. When the climate changed and Australia became drier, these claws allow it to adapt to living in sand.

Marsupial Moles: Notoryctemorphia - Behavior And Reproduction [next]

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over 5 years ago

Dude suup?