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  ― 272 ―

Of the Kangaroo

This animal (probably from its size) was the principal one taken notice of in this island; the only parts at first brought home were some skins and sculls; and I was favoured with one of the sculls from Sir Joseph Banks. As the teeth of such animals as are already known in some degree point out their digestive organs, I was in hopes that I might have been able to form an opinion of the particular tribe of the animals already known to which the Kangaroo should belong; but the teeth did not accord with those of any one class of animals I was acquainted with, therefore I was obliged to wait with patience till I could get the whole: and in many of its other organs the deviation from other animals is not less than in its teeth. In its mode of propagation it very probably comes nearer to the Opossum than any other animal; although it is not at all similar to it in other respects. Its hair is of a greyish-brown colour, similar to that of the wild rabbit of Great Britain, is thick and long when the animal is old; but it is


  ― 273 ―
late in growing, and when only begun to grow it is like a strong down; however, in some parts it begins earlier than others, as about the mouth, &c. In all of the young Kangaroos yet brought home (although some as large as a full-grown cat), they have all the marks of a foetus; no hair; ears lapped close over the head; no marks on the feet of having been used in progressive motion. The large nail on the great toe sharp at the point; and the sides of the mouth united something like the eye-lids of a puppy just whelped, having only a passage at the anterior part. This union of the two lips on the sides is of a particular structure, it wears off as it grows up, and by the time it is of the size of a small rabbit, disappears.

Colour plate facing page 272 of 'A Kangaroo'



Of the Teeth of the Kangaroo.

The teeth of this animal are so singular that it is impossible from them to say what tribe it is of. There is a faint mixture in them, corresponding to those of different tribes of animals.

Take the mouth at large, respecting the situation of the teeth, it would class in some degree with the Scalpris


  ― 274 ―
dentata;note in a fainter degree with the horse, and ruminants; and with regard to the line of direction of all the teeth, they are very like those of the Scalpris dentata. The foreteeth in the upper jaw agree with the hog, and those in the lower, in number, with the Scalpris dentata; but with regard to position, and probably use, with the hog. The grinders would seem to be a mixture of hog and ruminants; the enamel on their external and grinding surfaces rather formed into several cutting edges than points. There are six incisors in the upper jaw and only two in the lower; but these two are so placed as to oppose those of the upper; five grinders in each side of each jaw, the most anterior of which is small. The proportions of some of the parts of this animal bear no analogy to what is common in most others. The disproportions in the length between the fore legs and the hind are very considerable; also in their strength, yet perhaps not more than in the Jerboa. This disproportion between the fore legs and the hind is principally in the more adult; for in the very young, about the size of a half-grown rat, they are pretty


  ― 275 ―
well proportioned; which shews that at the early period of life they do not use progressive motion. The proportions of the different parts of which the hind legs are composed are very different. The thigh of the Kangaroo is extremely short, and the leg is very long. The hind foot is uncommonly long; on which, to appearance, are placed three toes, the middle toe by much the largest and the strongest, and looks something like the long toe of an ostrich. The outer toe is next in size; and what appears to be the inner toe is two, inclosed in one skin or covering.

The great toe nail much resembles that of an ostrich, as also the nail of the outer toe; and the inner, which appears to be but one toe, has two small nails, which are bent and sharp.

From the heel, along the under side of the foot and toe, the skin is adapted for walking upon.

The fore legs, in the full-grown Kangaroo, are small in proportion to the hind, or the size of the animal; the feet, or hands, are also small; the skin on the palm is different from that on the back of the hand and fingers. There are five toes or fingers on this foot, the middle rather the largest; the others become very gradually shorter, and are all nearly of


  ― 276 ―
the same shape. The nails are sharp, fit for holding. The tail is long in the old; but not so long, in proportion to the size of the animal, in the young. It would seem to keep pace with the growth of the hind legs, which are the instruments of progressive motion in this animal; and which would also shew that the tail is a kind of second instrument in this action.

The under lip is divided in the middle, each side rounded off at the division.

It has two clavicles; but they are short, so that the shoulders are not thrown out.

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