Monito Del Monte: Microbiotheria
The common name monito del monte is Spanish for "little monkey of the mountain." The "monkey" aspect of the common name derives from the animal's nearly furless, somewhat monkey-like hands and feet. Another local common name for the species is colocolo. The scientific name of this species has recently been changed to Dromiciops gliroides, and the species may be referred to as Dromiciops australis even in recent writing.
As with the other living New World marsupial orders, the single living species of Microbiotheria is a remnant with a more diverse past. The fossil record has revealed an extinct genus, Microbiotherium, with six known species, that thrived during the Oligocene and Miocene Epochs (thirty-four million years ago to five million years ago, for a period of thirty-nine million years). Today, D. gliroides represents an order with only a single living species.
An adult monito del monte's size is between a rat's and a squirrel's. The head-and-body length runs 3.3 to 5 inches (8.3 to 13 centimeters). The tail length is about the same, running 3.5 to 5 inches (9 to 13.2 centimeters), The adult body weight runs about a half ounce to just over one ounce (16.7 to 31.4 grams). The animal's coat of fur is fine, short and thick. The upper body pelt is brown, with several light gray patches or spots on the shoulders and rump. The face fur is gray, the large eyes encircled with prominent black rings. The belly fur is pale tan.
The tail is completely furred, except for a furless area, about an inch long (2.5 to 3 centimeters), on the underside, at the
tip. The one-third of the tail closest to the body has the same sort of dense, woolly fur as the body, while the rest of the tail has straight, dark brown fur. The female's well-developed pouch is comfortably lined with light brown fur and has four nipples. The ears are moderately furred.
As in many small marsupials, the snout is conical, cone-shaped, and tapering, but shorter than is usual among marsupials.