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4 Geography & Species Diversity:  Perplexing Possums

Scientists long had wondered if the mountain brushtail possum, Trichosurus caninus, was really two distinct species.  The possums further south appeared to different physically from their more northern counterparts:  their ears were shaped differently, their feet were of different lengths and the tail was even longer.  In this activity, you will not only look at these morphological differences, but also the genetic ones in order to determine which possum population is truly a different species.

A note about this species…

The mountain brushtail possum is an arboreal, nocturnal marsupial that lives in the old growth eucalypt forests of eastern Australia.  They are a social species, where females own the nest hollow and pass it down to their daughters.  They typically give birth to one offspring per year and it does not appear that males take any part in the rearing of the joeys.  They often come down to the ground to eat, feeding on different speciesof plants like acacia.  They weigh approximately 5-10 lbs.

Mountain Brushtail Possum

ACTIVITY 4 - Geography and Species Diversity: Perplexing Possums (pdf file)

VIDEO 4 – Zoo Genetics Section 4 Possums