National Geographic : 1955 Oct
489 Baby Listens In as Great Gray Kangaroos Hold a Family Conference The kangaroo moves with a curious gait. He balances on forearms and tail and swings long hind legs forward under the arched body. On the run, hind legs carry him in bounding leaps (page 496). Powerful shoulders identify animal on right as a male. Joey's legs as well as head project from mother's pouch. adjacent islands; indeed, marsupials are found nowhere else except for the opossums and their relatives in the Americas.* These grazers and browsers are grouped roughly according to size and shape. The large fellows of the coast and plain are well known as kangaroos. Creatures of distinc tion, they stand proudly alongside the flight less emu on the Australian coat of arms. The heavy-set climbers of the hills are wallaroos and euros. The middle-size, shy members of this vast, bouncing clan are labeled wallabies and pademelons. The little ones are rat kangaroos. Whatever the name, they all are kangaroos. They all belong to the family Macropodidae, meaning "long foot," and all use their over long hind legs to make the spectacular leaps for which they are famous. Most widely known of the lot is the great gray, or forester, kangaroo of the open woods and brush country of eastern and southwest ern Australia. Affectionately known as "Old Boomer," as are the other large male kanga roos, he is the species you will most likely see in the zoo. Old Boomer Carries His Own Stool A large male gray, rearing up on his tripod of massive tail and powerful hind legs, can look over a man's head, and he may weigh up to 200 pounds. Bushmen claim that the great gray can bound 20 feet at a time and spurt to speeds of 30 miles an hour (page 500). He can escape most enemies, although a horse can outrun him on a long stretch. This almost silent creature-he has only * See "Br'er Possum, Hermit of the Lowlands," by Agnes Akin Atkinson, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGA ZINE, March, 1953.