Possum Development

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The possums (Phalangeridae) are a family of nocturnal semi-arboreal marsupials including the cuscuses, brushtail possums, and their close relatives.

Common brushtail possum (Trichosurus vulpecula)

Common ringtail possum (Pseudocheirus peregrines)

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

Some Recent Findings

  • Developmental origins of precocial forelimbs in marsupial neonates[1] "Marsupial mammals are born in an embryonic state, as compared with their eutherian counterparts, yet certain features are accelerated. The most conspicuous of these features are the precocial forelimbs, which the newborns use to climb unaided from the opening of the birth canal to the teat. The developmental mechanisms that produce this acceleration are unknown. Here we show that heterochronic and heterotopic changes early in limb development contribute to forelimb acceleration. Using Tbx5 and Tbx4 as fore- and hindlimb field markers, respectively, we have found that, compared with mouse, both limb fields arise notably early during opossum development."
  • Expression of mRNAs encoding oestrogen receptor (ER) alpha and ERbeta, androgen receptor and progesterone receptor during gonadal and follicular development in the marsupial brushtail possum[2] "Expression of ERalpha and/or ERbeta mRNA was observed from birth, initially in cells of the blastema, then in the medullary cords from Day 20. ERalpha was expressed in the oocytes and granulosa cells of secondary and antral follicles. Preovulatory follicles did not express ERalpha mRNA, although their oocytes were not examined for any gene. ERbeta mRNA was observed in oocytes at all follicular stages examined, but was not consistently observed in granulosa or theca cells. Expression of AR mRNA before Day 40 was very faint; thereafter, expression was observed in the medullary cords, peaking between Days 60 and 120. Oocytes, granulosa cells and theca of secondary and antral, but not preovulatory, follicles expressed AR mRNA. PR mRNA was expressed throughout the gonad by Day 20. Granulosa cells of some secondary and antral follicles and theca of antral follicles expressed PR mRNA."
More recent papers  
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Search term: Possum Embryology

<pubmed limit=5>Possum Embryology</pubmed>


Taxonomy ID: 38626

Genbank common name: koala 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; Deuterostomia; Chordata; Craniata; Vertebrata; Gnathostomata; Teleostomi; Euteleostomi; Sarcopterygii; Dipnotetrapodomorpha; Tetrapoda; Amniota; Mammalia; Theria; Metatheria; Diprotodontia

Links: Taxonomy Browser Phalangeridae

Development Overview

System Development

The marsupial neonate at birth has a variation between the degree of development of different systems.[3]

  • well-developed - digestive, respiratory and circulatory system.
  • not well-developed - retains fetal excretory system with a fully functional mesonephric kidney and undifferentiated gonads and genitalia.


Ovarian Follicle Development

Marsupial eggs are enclosed by a series of layers:[4]

  • zona pellucida, three zona proteins (ZPA, ZPB, ZPC)
      • an additional extracellular matrix coat that lines the zona pellucida also occurs in some species.
  • mucoid coat
  • outer shell coat.

Links: oocyte


Links: spermatozoa


  1. Keyte AL & Smith KK. (2010). Developmental origins of precocial forelimbs in marsupial neonates. Development , 137, 4283-94. PMID: 21098569 DOI.
  2. Haydon LJ, Juengel JL, Thomson BP & Eckery DC. (2008). Expression of mRNAs encoding oestrogen receptor (ER) alpha and ERbeta, androgen receptor and progesterone receptor during gonadal and follicular development in the marsupial brushtail possum (Trichosurus vulpecula). Reprod. Fertil. Dev. , 20, 335-49. PMID: 18402753
  3. Renfree MB, Pask AJ & Shaw G. (2001). Sex down under: the differentiation of sexual dimorphisms during marsupial development. Reprod. Fertil. Dev. , 13, 679-90. PMID: 11999321
  4. Selwood L. (2000). Marsupial egg and embryo coats. Cells Tissues Organs (Print) , 166, 208-19. PMID: 10729728 DOI.




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Search PubMed: Trichosurus vulpecula | Possum development | marsupial development

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Cite this page: Hill, M.A. (2024, May 25) Embryology Possum Development. Retrieved from https://embryology.med.unsw.edu.au/embryology/index.php/Possum_Development

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© Dr Mark Hill 2024, UNSW Embryology ISBN: 978 0 7334 2609 4 - UNSW CRICOS Provider Code No. 00098G