Bandicoots are a group of more than 20 species of small to medium-sized, terrestrial, largely nocturnal marsupial omnivores in the order Peramelemorphia. They are endemic to the Australia–New Guinea region, including the Bismarck Archipelago to the east and Seram and Halmahera to the west.
|Eastern barred bandicoot (Perameles gunni)|
|Superfamilies, Families, Subfamilies, and Genera|
The bandicoot is a member of the order Peramelemorphia, and the word "bandicoot" is often used informally to refer to any peramelemorph, such as the bilby. The term originally referred to the unrelated Indian bandicoot rat from the Telugu word Pandikokku (పందికొక్కు).
Bandicoots have v-shaped faces, ending with their prominent noses similar to proboscises. These noses make them, along with bilbies, similar in appearance to elephant shrews and extinct leptictids, and they are distantly related to both mammal groups. With their well attuned snouts, and sharp claws, the bandicoot is a fossorial digger. They have small but fine teeth that allow them to easily chew their food.
The embryos of bandicoots have a chorioallantoic placenta that connects them to the uterine wall, in addition to the choriovitelline placenta that is common to all marsupials. However, the chorioallantoic placenta is small compared to those of the Placentalia, and lacks chorionic villi.
Bandicoots may serve as a primary reservoir for Coxiella burnetii. Infection is transmitted among them by ticks. These are then transmitted to domestic animals (cattle, sheep and poultry). The infected domestic animals shed them in urine, faeces, and placental products. It is transmitted to humans causing Q fever by inhalation of aerosols of these materials. Main symptoms may be pneumonia and/or hepatitis. Bandicoots can reach 11 to 31 inches in length, and 0.4 to 3.5 pounds in weight. Bandicoots have long, pointed snout, large ears, short body and long tail. Their body is covered with fur that can be brown, black, golden, white or gray in color. Bandicoots have strong hind legs designed for jumping.
Classification within the Peramelemorphia was previously thought to be straightforward, with two families in the order—the short-legged and mostly herbivorous bandicoots, and the longer-legged, nearly carnivorous bilbies. In recent years, however, it has become clear that the situation is more complex. First, the bandicoots of the New Guinean and far-northern Australian rainforests were deemed distinct from all other bandicoots and were grouped together in the separate family Peroryctidae. More recently, the bandicoot families were reunited in Peramelidae, with the New Guinean species split into four genera in two subfamilies, Peroryctinae and Echymiperinae, while the "true bandicoots" occupy the subfamily Peramelidae. The only exception is the now extinct pig-footed bandicoot, which has been given its own family, Chaeropodidae.
- Order Peramelemorphia
- Superfamily Perameloidea
- Unclassified family
- Family Thylacomyidae
- Family †Chaeropodidae: Pig-footed bandicoot
- Genus †Chaeropus: 1 species
- Family Peramelidae
- Subfamily Peramelinae
- Subfamily Peroryctinae
- Subfamily Echymiperinae
- Superfamily †Yaraloidea
- Superfamily Perameloidea
The name bandicoot is an Anglicised version of a word from the Telugu language of South India which translates as 'pig-rat'. What we now call bandicoots are not found in India and bandicoot was originally applied to completely unrelated mammals—several species of large rats (rodents). Today, these species, belonging to the genera Bandicota and Nesokia, are referred to as 'bandicoot rats'. Blust (1982, 1993, 2002, 2009) reconstructs the form *mansar or *mansər 'bandicoot' for Proto-Central–Eastern Malayo-Polynesian (i.e., the reconstructed most recent common ancestor of the Central–Eastern Malayo-Polynesian languages), but the validity of this reconstruction is doubted by Schapper (2011). It is known as aine in the Abinomn language of Papua, Indonesia.
In popular cultureEdit
The character Crash Bandicoot is a mutant eastern barred bandicoot, titular protagonist of the Sony PlayStation game of the same name, chosen in the late 1990s to compete as a mascot with Sega's Sonic the Hedgehog and Nintendo's Mario. Paleontologists have named an extinct Australian Miocene-era bandicoot, Crash bandicoot, after the character. The species name is unusual, being adopted entirely unaltered, with no attempt at returning to Latin or Greek roots.
In 2006, Australian entertainer Ben Murray played Benny Bandicoot during the fifth series of television series The Wiggles.
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