National Geographic : 1963 Sep
stroke a tree kangaroo, you may find it discon certing that the upper fur refuses to lie down, and actually bristles against the touch. Associated with the tree kangaroo in the thick cover of jungle scrubs in north Queensland and New Guinea is the cuscus (pages 402-3), a tropical possum of sturdy build with such well-defined rims about its eyes that it appears to be suffering from a chronic hangover. Like the koala (page 410), it has a worn rump patch due to constant pole-sitting. By day a cuscus sleeps balled up in the branch es of trees, the strongly prehensile tail rolled into a neat millipedelike ring. Though slow moving, it can bite most effectively-not from sheer play fulness and curiosity, as does a tree kangaroo, but with intent to teach its annoyer a lesson. Python Panics a Sluggish Cuscus There are at least 16 kinds of these brightly colored creatures-two species in north Queens land and the rest on New Guinea and neighbor ing islands. The spotted cuscus's ears lie almost hidden under thick woolly fur. This rounded, ear less appearance, with the yellow-rimmed popeyes and large nose, has often led people to report "monkeys" in northern jungles. The only time I ever saw a cuscus jolted out of its usual sluggishness occurred when a big ame thyst python, quite invisible to him, slithered slowly across the roof of his enclosure. Possibly the cuscus smelled his natural enemy; but the un mistakable sliding sound of the python appeared to be the main reason for his panic. DAVID FLEAY Heavyweights Box With All Four Feet Standing on tails, dark wallaroo and lighter wal laby grapple with sharp nailed paws and kick below the belt, slicing with a dag gerlike claw on each mid dle toe. They bend heads back to save eyes and ears. Pretty face (right), as Wal labia elegans is called, gets its nickname from facial markings. Scientists know the roan wallaroo as Mac ropus robustus erubescens. Valuable fur coat endan gers the rare ringed-tail rock wallaby, raccoon-size Petro gale xanthopus. 400 KODACHROMEBY KAY BREEDEN© N.G.S.