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


The relationships of the monotypic family are best described as unsettled with albumin MCF and DNA hybridisation data suggesting that Tarsipes is most closely related to the Petauridae (Baverstock et al. 1990; Edwards & Westerman, 1995; Kirsch et al. 1997), though other forms of data suggest acrobatid affinities (Aplin & Archer 1987). Its chromosomes show relationships to both macropodids and other possums (Hayman & Sharp 1982). Tarsipes is distinguished by a long rostrum and tongue, markedly reduced dentition and unique pedal morphology. Although several other Australian mammals use pollen and nectar for food, Tarsipes is the most highly specialized nectar-feeder.

While phylogenetic position of this species is yet to be determined, the unique combination of anatomical and physiological characters certainly warrant family status.


General References

Aplin, K.P. & Archer, M. 1987. Recent advances in marsupial systematics with a new syncretic classification. pp. xv-lxxii in Archer, M. (ed.). Possums and Opossums: studies in evolution. Sydney : Surrey Beatty & Sons with the Royal Zoological Society of New South Wales 2 vols lxxii 788 pp.

Baverstock, P., Kreig, M. & Birrell, J. 1990. Evolutionary relationships of Australian marsupials as assessed by albumin immunology. pp. 131-145 in Marshall Graves, J.A., Hope, R.M. & Cooper, D.W. (eds). Mammals from pouches and eggs. Genetics, breeding and evolution of marsupials and monotremes. Melbourne : CSIRO.

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]

Hayman, D.L. & Sharp, P.J. 1982. The chromosomes of Tarsipes spencerae Gray (Marsupialia). Australian Journal of Zoology 30: 799-803

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., Lapointe, F-J. & Springer, M.S. 1997. DNA-hybridisation studies of marsupials and their implications for metatherian classification. Australian Journal of Zoology 45: 211-280

Renfree, M.B. 1980. Embryonic diapause in the honey possum Tarsipes spencerae. Search 11: 81

Russell, E.M. & Renfree, M.B. 1989. Tarsipedidae. pp. 769-782 in Walton, D.W. & Richardson, B.J. (eds). Fauna of Australia. Mammalia. Canberra : Australian Government Publishing Service Vol. 1B 827 pp.


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)