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Monito del Monte

Let's totally switch gears now for a second, and look at one of the amazing Marsupials found outside of Australia and New Guinea. ...But first, a sort of history lesson.

The only living member of Microbiotheria
The first Marsupial and Placental mammals diverged from each other over 110 million years ago. Keep in mind that the continents were not always placed where they are today. Way back, the Marsupial and Placental mammals moved about, but as continents separated and drifted, different groups became cut off from one another. Many of the Marsupial lineages died out, including those in Asia and Europe. One group, however, made it into South America before it split from the North. These animals had less competition from Placentals and were able to thrive for tens of millions of years.

And then after some time, around 60 to 50 million years ago, Marsupials made their way from South America, through Antarctica, to Australia. They diverged into many other Marsupial species, and created the wide variety of animals there that we have today.

Now eventually, North and South America rejoined, causing Placentals to move south and resulting in the extinction of many of the South American Marsupials. But there are still three orders left, including one whose sole living member we are (finally) going to talk about today, the Monito del Monte.

This creature is sometimes given the "living fossil" moniker because it is the only living species within Microbiotheria. Current science suggests that this order belongs to the same superorder (Australidelphia) that the Australian Marsupials do, as opposed to the superorder that encompasses the American Opossums.

Monito del Monte
The Monito del Monte has a name that essentially means "Mountain Monkey." They are arboreal Marsupials that can be found in Argentina and Chile. They have excellent little hands for grabbing and moving up in the trees, as well as a prehensile tail. The Monito del Monte is an omnivore that consumes insects and fruit; it can store fat reserves in the base of its tail to save up for hibernation.

The Monito del Monte is at risk because its habitat is becoming fragmented, and the population is on a decline.
habitats to better understand and protect the species.

IUCN Status :  Near Threatened
Location : Chile and Argentina
Size : Body length up to 5in (13cm)
Classification : Phylum : Chordata -- Class : Mammalia -- Infraclass : Marsupialia
Superorder : Australidelphia -- Order : Microbiotheria -- Family: Microbiotheriidae
Genus : Dromiciops -- Species : D. gliroides

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