Kangaroo Development

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Red-necked wallaby

Macropodid marsupial have short five digit forelimbs and large four digit hindlimbs specially adapted for hopping. The hindlimb digits differ from mammals by a missing digit 1, fused digits 2 and 3 and an elongated digit 4.

  • tammar wallaby (Macropus eugenii)

Australian Animal: echidna | kangaroo | koala | platypus | possum | Category:Echidna | Category:Kangaroo | Category:Koala | Category:Platypus | Category:Possum | Category:Marsupial | Category:Monotreme | Development Timetable | K12
Historic Australian Animal  
Historic Embryology: 1834 Early Kangaroo | 1880 Platypus Cochlea | 1887 Monotremata and Marsupialia | 1910 Eastern Quoll | 1915 The Monotreme Skull | 1939 Early Echidna

The Hill Collection contains much histology of echidna and platypus embryonic development.

Embryology History | Historic Disclaimer

Other Marsupials  
Monito del Monte Development | Opossum Development
Animal Development: axolotl | bat | cat | chicken | cow | dog | dolphin | echidna | fly | frog | goat | grasshopper | guinea pig | hamster | horse | kangaroo | koala | lizard | medaka | mouse | opossum | pig | platypus | rabbit | rat | salamander | sea squirt | sea urchin | sheep | worm | zebrafish | life cycles | development timetable | development models | K12
Historic Embryology  
1897 Pig | 1900 Chicken | 1901 Lungfish | 1904 Sand Lizard | 1905 Rabbit | 1906 Deer | 1907 Tarsiers | 1908 Human | 1909 Northern Lapwing | 1909 South American and African Lungfish | 1910 Salamander | 1951 Frog | Embryology History | Historic Disclaimer

Some Recent Findings

  • Embryo arrest and reactivation: potential candidates controlling embryonic diapause in the tammar wallaby and mink[1] "Embryonic diapause is a period of developmental arrest which requires coordination of a molecular cross-talk between the endometrium and blastocyst to ensure a successful reactivation, but the exact mechanisms are undefined. The objectives of this study were to screen the tammar blastocyst for potential diapause control factors and to investigate the potential for members of the epidermal growth factor (EGF) family to coordinate reactivation. A select number of factors were also examined in the mink to determine whether their expression patterns were conserved across diapause species. The full-length sequences of the tammar genes of interest were first cloned to establish their level of sequence conservation with other mammals. The uterine expression of EGF family members EGF and heparin-binding EGF (HBEGF) and their receptors (EGFR and erb-b2 receptor tyrosine kinase 4 (ERBB4)) was determined by quantitative reverse-transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) and immunohistochemistry. Both HBEGF and EGF were significantly upregulated at reactivation compared to diapause. In the blastocyst, the expression of the potential diapause factors Forkhead box class O family members (FOXO1, FOXO3, and FOXO4), tumor protein 53 (TP53), cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor 1A (CDKN1A), and the EGF family were examined by RT-PCR and immunofluorescence. Nuclear (and hence active) FOXO expression was confirmed for the first time in a mammalian diapause blastocyst in both the tammar and the mink-CDKN1A was also expressed, but TP53 is not involved and EGFR was not detected in the blastocyst. These results indicate that the EGF family, FOXOs, and CDKN1A are promising candidates for the molecular control of embryonic diapause in mammals."
  • The tammar wallaby genome and transcriptome A cross-journal collection of articles from the tammar wallaby genome and transcriptome sequencing project. BMC Genomics
  • Desert hedgehog is a mammal-specific gene expressed during testicular and ovarian development in a marsupial.[2] "These data suggest that there is a highly conserved role for DHH signalling in the differentiation and function of the mammalian testis and that DHH may be necessary for marsupial ovarian development. The receptors PTCH1 and PTCH2 are highly conserved mediators of hedgehog signalling in both the developing and adult marsupial gonads. Together these findings indicate DHH is an essential therian mammal-specific morphogen in gonadal development and gametogenesis."

More recent papers  
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More? References | Discussion Page | Journal Searches | 2019 References | 2020 References

Search term: Kangaroo Embryology | Wallaby Embryology

Older papers  
These papers originally appeared in the Some Recent Findings table, but as that list grew in length have now been shuffled down to this collapsible table.

See also the Discussion Page for other references listed by year and References on this current page.

  • Developmental origins of precocial forelimbs in marsupial neonates[3] "We present the genome sequence of the tammar wallaby, Macropus eugenii, which is a member of the kangaroo family and the first representative of the iconic hopping mammals that symbolize Australia to be sequenced. The tammar has many unusual biological characteristics, including the longest period of embryonic diapause of any mammal, extremely synchronized seasonal breeding and prolonged and sophisticated lactation within a well-defined pouch. Like other marsupials, it gives birth to highly altricial young, and has a small number of very large chromosomes, making it a valuable model for genomics, reproduction and development. The genome has been sequenced to 2x coverage using Sanger sequencing, enhanced with additional next generation sequencing and the integration of extensive physical and linkage maps to build the genome assembly. We also sequenced the tammar transcriptome across many tissues and developmental time points. Our analyses of these data shed light on mammalian reproduction, development and genome evolution: there is innovation in reproductive and lactational genes, rapid evolution of germ cell genes, and incomplete, locus-specific X inactivation. We also observe novel retrotransposons and a highly rearranged major histocompatibility complex, with many class I genes located outside the complex. Novel microRNAs in the tammar HOX clusters uncover new potential mammalian HOX regulatory elements."


Taxonomy ID: 9322

Genbank common name: kangaroo

Inherited blast name: marsupials

Rank: species

Genetic code: Translation table 1 (Standard)

Mitochondrial genetic code: Translation table 2 (Vertebrate Mitochondrial)

Lineage ( full )

cellular organisms; Eukaryota; Opisthokonta; Metazoa; Eumetazoa; Bilateria; Coelomata; Deuterostomia; Chordata; Craniata; Vertebrata; Gnathostomata; Teleostomi; Euteleostomi; Sarcopterygii; Tetrapoda; Amniota; Mammalia; Theria; Metatheria; Diprotodontia; Macropodidae; Macropus

Links: Taxonomy Browser Macropus

Development Overview

  • short pregnancy period (tammar wallaby 26.5 days)
  • pregnancy can be maternally delayed (diapause) at blastocyst stage
  • born in altricial (underdeveloped) state
  • development continues attached to a teat in the pouch
  • during pouch period growth controlled by milk composition changes
  • immune system, thyroid and thermoregulation develops after birth

Tammar Wallaby

The following tammar wallaby (Notamacropus eugenii) embryo images are from a paper on placental evolution.[4]

Tammar wallaby limb development 01.jpg

Tammar Wallaby Limb Development[5]

The development of tammar fetal limbs at selected stages before birth. (A) day 19, (B) day 20, (C) day 22, (D) day 24 and (E) day 25 (one day before birth).

Tammar Limbs: day 19-25 | day 19 | day 20 | day 22 | day 24 | day 25 | Limb Development | Kangaroo Development

Map tammar wallaby distribution

Former and current distribution of the tammar wallaby (Notamacropus eugenii) in Southern Australia.[6]


Tammar wallaby karyotype.jpg

The tammar wallaby karyotype (2 n = 16) consists of 7 autosomes and the two sex chromosomes.[7]

Gonad Development

The following data is from the tammar wallaby (Macropus eugenii) study.[8]

Female ovary

  • migrate caudally between days 10 and 20 after birth.
  • gubernaculum differentiates into:
    • round ligament in the abdomen
    • extra-abdominally as the ilio-marsupialis muscle of the mammary glands.

Male testis

  • migrate to the internal inguinal ring by day 20 post partum (pp).
  • migrate then to the scrotum between days 20 and 65 pp.
  • cremaster muscle development begins day 10 pp and structure completed by day 60 pp.
  • inguinal canal closed between days 50 and 60 pp.


Rock-wallaby Australian distribution.jpg

Rock-wallaby Australian taxa distribution[9]

Taxa are colored in accordance with their chromosomal groupings:
  • red - brachyotis group
  • yellow - xanthopus group
  • blue - lateralis group
  • green - penicillata group

Mitochondrial coding genes - 12 genes, 11,373 bp.


  1. Fenelon JC, Shaw G, Frankenberg SR, Murphy BD & Renfree MB. (2017). Embryo arrest and reactivation: potential candidates controlling embryonic diapause in the tammar wallaby and mink†. Biol. Reprod. , 96, 877-894. PMID: 28379301 DOI.
  2. O'Hara WA, Azar WJ, Behringer RR, Renfree MB & Pask AJ. (2011). Desert hedgehog is a mammal-specific gene expressed during testicular and ovarian development in a marsupial. BMC Dev. Biol. , 11, 72. PMID: 22132805 DOI.
  3. Renfree MB, Papenfuss AT, Deakin JE, Lindsay J, Heider T, Belov K, Rens W, Waters PD, Pharo EA, Shaw G, Wong ES, Lefèvre CM, Nicholas KR, Kuroki Y, Wakefield MJ, Zenger KR, Wang C, Ferguson-Smith M, Nicholas FW, Hickford D, Yu H, Short KR, Siddle HV, Frankenberg SR, Chew KY, Menzies BR, Stringer JM, Suzuki S, Hore TA, Delbridge ML, Patel HR, Mohammadi A, Schneider NY, Hu Y, O'Hara W, Al Nadaf S, Wu C, Feng ZP, Cocks BG, Wang J, Flicek P, Searle SM, Fairley S, Beal K, Herrero J, Carone DM, Suzuki Y, Sugano S, Toyoda A, Sakaki Y, Kondo S, Nishida Y, Tatsumoto S, Mandiou I, Hsu A, McColl KA, Lansdell B, Weinstock G, Kuczek E, McGrath A, Wilson P, Men A, Hazar-Rethinam M, Hall A, Davis J, Wood D, Williams S, Sundaravadanam Y, Muzny DM, Jhangiani SN, Lewis LR, Morgan MB, Okwuonu GO, Ruiz SJ, Santibanez J, Nazareth L, Cree A, Fowler G, Kovar CL, Dinh HH, Joshi V, Jing C, Lara F, Thornton R, Chen L, Deng J, Liu Y, Shen JY, Song XZ, Edson J, Troon C, Thomas D, Stephens A, Yapa L, Levchenko T, Gibbs RA, Cooper DW, Speed TP, Fujiyama A, Graves JA, O'Neill RJ, Pask AJ, Forrest SM & Worley KC. (2011). Genome sequence of an Australian kangaroo, Macropus eugenii, provides insight into the evolution of mammalian reproduction and development. Genome Biol. , 12, R81. PMID: 21854559 DOI.
  4. Menzies BR, Pask AJ & Renfree MB. (2011). Placental expression of pituitary hormones is an ancestral feature of therian mammals. Evodevo , 2, 16. PMID: 21854600 DOI.
  5. Chew KY, Yu H, Pask AJ, Shaw G & Renfree MB. (2012). HOXA13 and HOXD13 expression during development of the syndactylous digits in the marsupial Macropus eugenii. BMC Dev. Biol. , 12, 2. PMID: 22235805 DOI.
  6. Eldridge MD, Miller EJ, Neaves LE, Zenger KR & Herbert CA. (2017). Extensive genetic differentiation detected within a model marsupial, the tammar wallaby (Notamacropus eugenii). PLoS ONE , 12, e0172777. PMID: 28257440 DOI.
  7. Edwards CA, Rens W, Clarke O, Mungall AJ, Hore T, Graves JA, Dunham I, Ferguson-Smith AC & Ferguson-Smith MA. (2007). The evolution of imprinting: chromosomal mapping of orthologues of mammalian imprinted domains in monotreme and marsupial mammals. BMC Evol. Biol. , 7, 157. PMID: 17822525 DOI.
  8. Coveney D, Shaw G, Hutson JM & Renfree MB. (2002). The development of the gubernaculum and inguinal closure in the marsupial Macropus eugenii. J. Anat. , 201, 239-56. PMID: 12363275
  9. Potter S, Bragg JG, Blom MPK, Deakin JE, Kirkpatrick M, Eldridge MDB and Moritz C (2017) Chromosomal Speciation in the Genomics Era: Disentangling Phylogenetic Evolution of Rock-wallabies. Front. Genet. 8:10. doi: 10.3389/fgene.2017.00010


Renfree MB, Ager EI, Shaw G & Pask AJ. (2008). Genomic imprinting in marsupial placentation. Reproduction , 136, 523-31. PMID: 18805821 DOI.


Graves JAM. (2018). Marsupial genomics meet marsupial reproduction. Reprod. Fertil. Dev. , , . PMID: 30482268 DOI.

Fenelon JC, Shaw G, Frankenberg SR, Murphy BD & Renfree MB. (2017). Embryo arrest and reactivation: potential candidates controlling embryonic diapause in the tammar wallaby and mink†. Biol. Reprod. , 96, 877-894. PMID: 28379301 DOI.

Huyhn K, Renfree MB, Graves JA & Pask AJ. (2011). ATRX has a critical and conserved role in mammalian sexual differentiation. BMC Dev. Biol. , 11, 39. PMID: 21672208 DOI.

Chung JW, Pask AJ, Yu H & Renfree MB. (2011). Fibroblast growth factor-9 in marsupial testicular development. Sex Dev , 5, 131-40. PMID: 21540568 DOI.

McCluskey SU, Marotte LR & Ashwell KW. (2008). Development of the vestibular apparatus and central vestibular connections in a wallaby (Macropus eugenii). Brain Behav. Evol. , 71, 271-86. PMID: 18431054 DOI.

Ashwell KW, Marotte LR & Cheng G. (2008). Development of the olfactory system in a wallaby (Macropus eugenii). Brain Behav. Evol. , 71, 216-30. PMID: 18322362 DOI.

Butler CM, Shaw G, Clark J & Renfree MB. (2008). The functional development of Leydig cells in a marsupial. J. Anat. , 212, 55-66. PMID: 18069991 DOI.

Freyer C, Zeller U & Renfree MB. (2002). Ultrastructure of the placenta of the tammar wallaby, Macropus eugenii: comparison with the grey short-tailed opossum, Monodelphis domestica. J. Anat. , 201, 101-19. PMID: 12220120

Renfree MB & Tyndale-Biscoe CH. (1973). Intrauterine development after diapause in the marsupial Macropus eugenii. Dev. Biol. , 32, 28-40. PMID: 4791592


  • Life of Marsupials by Hugh Tyndale-Biscoe Publisher: CSIRO Publishing (2005).
  • Kangaroo - A Portrait of an Extraordinary Marsupial by Stephen Jackson and Karl Vernes Publisher: Allen & Unwin (2010).

Search PubMed

Search PubMed: Kangaroo development | Macropus eugenii | marsupial development

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Cite this page: Hill, M.A. (2024, April 19) Embryology Kangaroo Development. Retrieved from https://embryology.med.unsw.edu.au/embryology/index.php/Kangaroo_Development

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