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Comparative hind limb myology of the southern brown bandicoot and greater bilby (Marsupialia: Perameleemorphia)

Warburton, N.M. (2014) Comparative hind limb myology of the southern brown bandicoot and greater bilby (Marsupialia: Perameleemorphia). In: 60th Annual Scientific Meeting of the Australian Mammal Society, 7 - 10 July, Melbourne, Australia.

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Bandicoots and bilbies (order Peramelemorphia) represent the principle group of omnivorous marsupials from a range of habitats across Australia and New Guinea. Bandicoots and bilbies most commonly use quadrupedal, asymmetrical half-bounding or bounding gaits and present an unusual assortment of hind limb morphological features, including an ossified patella, a modified tibiofibular joint, and syndactylous morphology of the pes. Comparative dissections of the hind limb of the southern brown bandicoot Isoodon obesulus fusciventer (n = 8) and greater bilby Macrotis lagotis (n=4) provide an interesting study in the adaptation of soft-tissues in the Peramelemorphia. Bilby hind limb muscle anatomy appeared relatively unspecialised; the arrangement and development of muscles was as expected for a syndactylous marsupial with moderately long, slender limb bones, a semi-flexed stance and an unspecialised digitigrade gait. In contrast, I. obesulus displayed significant modification of the muscular anatomy and associated connective tissues of the hind limb, which appear to reflect adaptation for rapid acceleration and locomotion, including strongly flexed limb posture, long muscle bellies with very short tendons, and extreme development of fascial structures. Differences between the hind limb anatomy of the bandicoot and bilby appear likely to reflect the different ecological and environmental pressures on their locomotor strategy. On one hand, bilbies inhabit open, arid country and retreat a relatively short distance to the shelter of their burrow when threatened. On the other hand, southern brown bandicoots inhabit much more closed environments and use explosive acceleration through dense cover to flee from potential threats.

Publication Type: Conference Item
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Veterinary and Life Sciences
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