Australian Biological Resources Study

Australian Faunal Directory


Regional Maps


Compiler and date details

October 2010 - Updated by Stephen M. Jackson, c/- Queensland Museum, Brisbane, following Van Dyck and Strahan (2008)

31 December 1998 - G.M. McKay (1988); updated by Barry J. Richardson (1999), Centre for Biostructural and Biomolecular Research, University of Western Sydney, Hawkesbury, NSW, Australia


This family, as recognized by Kirsch & Calaby (1977), consists of several separate lineages which are variously treated as subfamilies (Kirsch, 1977; Kirsch et al. 1997). The first group consists of Petaurus, arboreal gliders with a patagial fold extending from manus to pes, and may include Gymnobelideus which lacks the patagium but otherwise closely resembles the smaller members of the former genus. The second group, containing Dactylopsila and Dactylonax (which is considered here to be generically distinct), is distinguished by enlarged procumbent upper incisors and an elongated manal digit IV. (Dactylonax occurs only in New Guinea). The remaining genera, characterized by selenodont molars, forcipate (though weakly so in some species) manus and prehensile tails with either a ventral friction pad or a terminal callosity, are primarily arboreal folivores. Within this group, Petauroides has a well-developed patagium extending from the elbow to the tarsus and the closely related Hemibelideus has a vestigial patagial fold first reported by Cairn & Grant (1890) but ignored by later authors.

Tate (1945a, 1945b) reviewed the members of this family and produced an arrangement that differs markedly at the generic and specific level from that of Iredale & Troughton (1934). More recently, Ride (1970) and Kirsch & Calaby (1977) published arrangements which differ not only from Tate's, but from each other and the systematics and taxonomy of this family are still uncertain (Murray et al. 1980; McKay 1982; Archer 1984; Baverstock et al. 1990; Edwards & Westerman 1992; Springer et al. 1994; Kirsch et al. 1997).This work generally follows Iredale & Troughton's (1934) generic arrangement.

At the species group level further confusion exists. Ride (1970) included several formerly recognized species under Pseudocheirus peregrinus. Many distinct differences occur within this "species group" (Murray et al. 1980) and a taxonomic rearrangement is forthcoming (McKay, unpublished data). Since the proposed rearrangement does not parallel the species and subspecies arrangements of either Iredale & Troughton (1934) or Tate (1945a) the available species group names are included within Pseudocheirus under Ride's (1970) species names.


General References

Baverstock, P.R. 1984. The molecular relationships of Australasian possums and gliders. pp. 1-8 in Smith, A. & Hume, I. (eds). Possums and Gliders. Sydney : Surrey Beatty & Sons, Australian Mammal Society 598 pp.

Cairn, E.J. & Grant, R. 1890. Report of a collecting trip to north-eastern Queensland during April to September, 1889. Records of the Australian Museum 1: 27-31

Edwards, D. & Westerman, M. 1995. The molecular relationships of possum and glider families as revealed by DNA-DNA hybridisations. Australian Journal of Zoology 43: 231-240 [publication date established from Duncan, F.M. 1937. On the dates of publication of the Society's 'Proceedings', 1859–1926. With an appendix containing the dates of publication of 'Proceedings', 1830–1858, compiled by the late F.H. Waterhouse, and of the 'Transactions', 1853–1869, by the late Henry Peavot, originally published in P.Z.S. 1893, 1913. Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London 107: 71–84]

Iredale, T. & Troughton, E. le G. 1934. A check-list of the mammals recorded from Australia. Memoirs of the Australian Museum 6: i-xii 1-122

Kirsch, J.A.W. 1977. The comparative serology of Marsupialia, and a classification of marsupials. Australian Journal of Zoology Supplementary Series 52: 1-152

Kirsch, J.A.W. & Calaby, J.H. 1977. The species of living marsupials: an annotated list. pp. 9-26 in Stonehouse, B. & Gilmore, D. (eds). The Biology of Marsupials. Baltimore : University Park Press.

McKay, G.M. 1982. Nomenclature of the gliding possum genera Petaurus and Petauroides (Marsupialia: Petauridae). Australian Mammalogy 5: 37-39

McKay, G.M. 1989. Family Petauridae. pp. 665-678 in Walton, D.W. & Richardson, B.J. (eds). Fauna of Australia. Mammalia. Canberra : Australian Government Publishing Service Vol. 1B 827 pp.

Ride, W.D.L. 1970. A Guide to the Native Mammals of Australia. Melbourne : Oxford University Press xiv 249 pp. 62 pls.

Tate, G.H.H. 1945. Results of the Archbold Expeditions. No. 54 The marsupial genus Pseudocheirus and its subgenera. American Museum Novitates 1287: 1-30 [11 June 1945]

Tate, G.H.H. 1945. Results of the Archbold Expeditions. No. 55 Notes on the squirrel-like and mouse-like possums (Marsupialia). American Museum Novitates 1305: 1-12 [29 Dec. 1945]


History of changes

Note that this list may be incomplete for dates prior to September 2013.
Published As part of group Action Date Action Type Compiler(s)
29-Oct-2010 29-Oct-2010 MOVED
12-Feb-2010 (import)