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Monito Del Monte: Microbiotheria

Physical Characteristics, Habitat, Behavior And ReproductionGEOGRAPHIC RANGE, DIET, MONITOS DEL MONTE AND PEOPLE, CONSERVATION STATUS

The monito del monte has a limited range in South America, in southern Chile, overlapping into Argentina, from Concepción, Chile, southward to and including the Chilean island of Chiloé, and inland to the Andes and just over the border into Argentina.

The monito del monte is mostly insectivorous, meaning that it forages for and eats insect larvae (LAR-vee) and pupae (PYOO-pee). They also eat some plant material. They do most of their foraging at night, in the trees and on the ground. In the Southern Hemisphere in autumn, the animals gorge, doubling their body weights in a week, most of the extra weight being fat packed into the base of the tail.

There is little interaction between these small, secretive animals and humans. In the Lake Region of Chile, a superstition holds that seeing a monito del monte in the home brings bad luck, and that the only cure is burning down the house. One the other hand, the animal's consumption of insects serves as a local control on insect populations.

Scientific value of the monito del monte is immense, because of its ancient origins and relationships.

Monitos del monte are listed as Vulnerable, facing a high risk of extinction in the wild, on the Red List of the World Conservation Union (IUCN). The main problem facing the species is ongoing deforestation.

FOR MORE INFORMATION

Books:

Aplin, K. P., and M. Archer. "Recent Advances in Marsupial Systematics With a New Syncretic Classification." In Possums and Opossums: Studies in Evolution. Vol. I. Chipping Norton, U.K.: Surrey Beatty and Sons PTY Limited, 1987.

Feldhamer, G. A., L. C. Drickamer, S. H. Vessey, and J. F. Merritt. Mammalogy: Adaptation, Diversity, and Ecology. Boston: WCB McGraw-Hill, 1999.

Szalay, F. "A New Appraisal of Marsupial Phylogeny and Classification." In Carnivorous Marsupials. Sydney, Australia: Royal Zoological Society of New South Wales, 1982.

Vaughan, T. A., J. M. Ryan, and N. J. Czaplewski. Mammalogy, 4th ed. Philadelphia: Saunders College Publishing, 2000.

Periodicals:

Amico, G., and M. A. Aizen. "Mistletoe Seed Dispersal by a Marsupial." Nature no. 408 (2000): 929–930.

Bozinovic, Francisco, G. Ruiz, and M. Rosenmann. "Energetics and Torpor of a South American "Living Fossil," the Microbiotheriid Dromiciops gliroides." Journal of Comparative Physiology B 174 (2004): 93–297.

Hershkovitz, P. "Ankle Bones: The Chilean Opossum Dromiciops gliroides Thomas, and Marsupial Phylogeny." Bonner Zoologische Beiträge no. 43 (1992): 181–213.

Hershkovitz, P. "Dromiciops gliroides Thomas, 1894, Last of the Microbiotheria (Marsupialia), With a Review of the Family Microbiotheriidae." Fieldiana Zoology (New Series) 93, no. 1502 (2004).

Kirsch, J. A. W., A. W. Dickerman, O. A. Reig, and M. S. Springer. "DNA Hybridisation Evidence for the Australian Affinity of the American Marsupial Dromiciops australis." Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, USA no. 88 (1991): 10465–10469.

Marshall, L. G. "Dromiciops australis." Mammalian Species 99 (1978): 1–5.

Pridmore, P. A. "Locomotion in Dromiciops australis (Microbiotheriidae)." Australian Journal of Zoology no. 42 (1994): 679–699.

Westerman, M., and D. Edwards. "The Relationship of Dromiciops australis to Other Marsupials: Data From DNA-DNA Hybridisation Studies." Australian Journal of Zoology no. 39 (1991): 123–130.

Horovitz, Inez, and M. R. Sánchez-Villagra. "A Morphological Analysis of Marsupial Mammal Higher-Level Phylogenetic Relationships." Cladistics19, no. 3 (June 2003): 181–212.

Web sites:

Terrestrial Ecoregions—Valdivian temperate forests (NT0404). http://www.worldwildlife.org/wildworld/profiles/terrestrial/nt/nt0404_full.html (accessed on June 29, 2004).

Animal Diversity Web, University of Michigan. http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/index.html (accessed June 29, 2004).

Additional topics

Animal Life ResourceMammals