The platypus, sometimes referred to as the duck-billed platypus, is a semiaquatic egg-laying mammal endemic to eastern Australia, including Tasmania. Together with the four species of echidna, it is one of the five extant species of monotremes, the only mammals that lay eggs instead of giving birth to live young; the animal is the sole living representative of its family and genus, though a number of related species appear in the fossil record. The first scientists to examine a preserved platypus body judged it a fake, made of several animals sewn together; the unusual appearance of this egg-laying, duck-billed, beaver-tailed, otter-footed mammal baffled European naturalists when they first encountered it, with some considering it an elaborate hoax. It is one of the few species of venomous mammals: the male platypus has a spur on the hind foot that delivers a venom capable of causing severe pain to humans; the unique features of the platypus make it an important subject in the study of evolutionary biology and a recognizable and iconic symbol of Australia.
The platypus is the animal emblem of the state of New South Wales. Until the early 20th century humans hunted the platypus for its fur, but it is now protected throughout its range. Although captive-breeding programs have had only limited success, the platypus is vulnerable to the effects of pollution, it is not under any immediate threat; when the platypus was first encountered by Europeans in 1798, a pelt and sketch were sent back to Great Britain by Captain John Hunter, the second Governor of New South Wales. British scientists' initial hunch was. George Shaw, who produced the first description of the animal in the Naturalist's Miscellany in 1799, stated it was impossible not to entertain doubts as to its genuine nature, Robert Knox believed it might have been produced by some Asian taxidermist, it was thought. Shaw took a pair of scissors to the dried skin to check for stitches; the common name "platypus" is the latinisation of the Greek word πλατύπους, "flat-footed", from πλατύς, "broad, flat" and πούς, "foot".
Shaw assigned the species the Linnaean name Platypus anatinus when he described it, but the genus term was discovered to be in use as the name of the wood-boring ambrosia beetle genus Platypus. It was independently described as Ornithorhynchus paradoxus by Johann Blumenbach in 1800 and following the rules of priority of nomenclature, it was officially recognised as Ornithorhynchus anatinus; the scientific name Ornithorhynchus anatinus is derived from ορνιθόρυγχος, which means "bird snout" in Greek. There is no universally-agreed plural form of "platypus" in the English language. Scientists use "platypuses" or "platypus". Colloquially, the term "platypi" is used for the plural, although this is technically incorrect and a form of pseudo-Latin. Early British settlers called it by many names, such as "watermole", "duckbill", "duckmole"; the name platypus is prefixed with the adjective "duck-billed" to form duck-billed platypus. In David Collins's account of the new colony 1788–1801, he describes coming across as "an amphibious animal, of the mole species".
His account includes a drawing of the animal. The body and the broad, flat tail of the platypus are covered with dense, brown fur that traps a layer of insulating air to keep the animal warm; the fur is waterproof, the texture is akin to that of a mole. The platypus uses its tail for storage of fat reserves; the webbing on the feet is more significant on the front feet and is folded back when walking on land. The elongated snout and lower jaw are covered in soft skin; the nostrils are located on the dorsal surface of the snout, while the eyes and ears are located in a groove set just back from it. Platypuses have been heard to emit a low growl when disturbed and a range of other vocalisations have been reported in captive specimens. Weight varies from 0.7 to 2.4 kg, with males being larger than females. The platypus has an average body temperature of about 32 °C rather than the 37 °C typical of placental mammals. Research suggests this has been a gradual adaptation to harsh environmental conditions on the part of the small number of surviving monotreme species rather than a historical characteristic of monotremes.
Modern platypus young have three teeth in each of the maxillae and dentaries, which they lose before or just after leaving the breeding burrow. The first upper and third lower cheek teeth of platypus nestlings are small, each having one principal cusp, while the other teeth have two main cusps; the platypus jaw is constructed differently from that of other mammals, the jaw-opening muscle is different. As in all true mammals, the tiny bones that conduct sound in the middle ear are incorporated into the skull, rather th
The yen is the official currency of Japan. It is the third most traded currency in the foreign exchange market after the United States dollar and the euro, it is widely used as a reserve currency after the U. S. dollar, the euro, the pound sterling. The concept of the yen was a component of the Meiji government's modernization program of Japan's economy. Before the Meiji Restoration, Japan's feudal fiefs all issued their own money, hansatsu, in an array of incompatible denominations; the New Currency Act of 1871 did away with these and established the yen, defined as 1.5 g of gold, or 24.26 g of silver, as the new decimal currency. The former han became prefectures and their mints private chartered banks, which retained the right to print money. To bring an end to this situation the Bank of Japan was founded in 1882 and given a monopoly on controlling the money supply. Following World War II the yen lost much of its prewar value. To stabilize the Japanese economy the exchange rate of the yen was fixed at ¥360 per $1 as part of the Bretton Woods system.
When that system was abandoned in 1971, the yen was allowed to float. The yen had appreciated to a peak of ¥271 per $1 in 1973 underwent periods of depreciation and appreciation due to the 1973 oil crisis, arriving at a value of ¥227 per $1 by 1980. Since 1973, the Japanese government has maintained a policy of currency intervention, the yen is therefore under a "dirty float" regime; this intervention continues to this day. The Japanese government focuses on a competitive export market, tries to ensure a low yen value through a trade surplus; the Plaza Accord of 1985 temporarily changed this situation from its average of ¥239 per US$1 in 1985 to ¥128 in 1988 and led to a peak value of ¥80 against the U. S. dollar in 1995 increasing the value of Japan’s GDP to that of the United States. Since that time, the yen has decreased in value; the Bank of Japan maintains a policy of zero to near-zero interest rates and the Japanese government has had a strict anti-inflation policy. Yen derives from the Japanese word 圓, which borrows its phonetic reading from Chinese yuan, similar to North Korean won and South Korean won.
The Chinese had traded silver in mass called sycees and when Spanish and Mexican silver coins arrived, the Chinese called them "silver rounds" for their circular shapes. The coins and the name appeared in Japan. While the Chinese replaced 圓 with 元, the Japanese continued to use the same word, given the shinjitai form 円 in reforms at the end of World War II; the spelling and pronunciation "yen" is standard in English. This is because when Japan was first encountered by Europeans around the 16th century, Japanese /e/ and /we/ both had been pronounced and Portuguese missionaries had spelled them "ye"; some time thereafter, by the middle of the 18th century, /e/ and /we/ came to be pronounced as in modern Japanese, although some regions retain the pronunciation. Walter Henry Medhurst, who had neither been to Japan nor met any Japanese, having consulted a Japanese-Dutch dictionary, spelled some "e"s as "ye" in his An English and Japanese, Japanese and English Vocabulary. In the early Meiji era, James Curtis Hepburn, following Medhurst, spelled all "e"s as "ye" in his A Japanese and English dictionary.
That was the first full-scale Japanese-English/English-Japanese dictionary, which had a strong influence on Westerners in Japan and prompted the spelling "yen". Hepburn revised most "ye"s to "e" in the 3rd edition in order to mirror the contemporary pronunciation, except "yen"; this was already fixed and has remained so since. In the 19th century, silver Spanish dollar coins were common throughout Southeast Asia, the China coast, Japan; these coins had been introduced through Manila over a period of two hundred and fifty years, arriving on ships from Acapulco in Mexico. These ships were known as the Manila galleons; until the 19th century, these silver dollar coins were actual Spanish dollars minted in the new world at Mexico City. But from the 1840s, they were replaced by silver dollars of the new Latin American republics. In the half of the 19th century, some local coins in the region were made in the resemblance of the Mexican peso; the first of these local silver coins was the Hong Kong silver dollar coin, minted in Hong Kong between the years 1866 and 1869.
The Chinese were slow to accept unfamiliar coinage and preferred the familiar Mexican dollars, so the Hong Kong government ceased minting these coins and sold the mint machinery to Japan. The Japanese decided to adopt a silver dollar coinage under the name of'yen', meaning'a round object'; the yen was adopted by the Meiji government in an Act signed on June 27, 1871. The new currency was introduced beginning from July of that year; the yen was therefore a dollar unit, like all dollars, descended from the Spanish Pieces of eight, up until the year 1873, all the dollars in the world had more or less the same value. The yen replaced a complex monetary system of the Edo period based on the mon.. The New Currency Act of 1871, stipulated the adoption of the decimal accounting system of yen and rin, with the coins being round and manufactured using Western machinery; the yen
The Australian dollar is the currency of Australia, of three independent Pacific Island states Kiribati and Tuvalu. It was introduced on 14 February 1966 when the pre-decimal Australian pound, with subunits of shillings and pence, was replaced by the new decimal currency, the Australian dollar. Within Australia, it is always abbreviated with the dollar sign, with A$ or AU$ sometimes used to distinguish it from other dollar-denominated currencies, it is subdivided into 100 cents. In 2016, the Australian dollar was the fifth most traded currency in world foreign exchange markets, accounting for 6.9% of the world's daily share behind the United States dollar, the European Union's euro, the Japanese yen and the United Kingdom's pound sterling. The Australian dollar is popular with currency traders, because of the comparatively high interest rates in Australia, the relative freedom of the foreign exchange market from government intervention, the general stability of Australia's economy and political system, the prevailing view that the Australian dollar offers diversification benefits in a portfolio containing the major world currencies because of its greater exposure to Asian economies and the commodities cycle.
The Australian dollar was legal tender of Papua New Guinea until 1 January 1976, when the Papua New Guinean kina became the sole legal tender there. The previous currency, the Australian pound, was introduced in 1910, had been distinct in value from the U. K.'s pound sterling since devaluation in 1931. The pound was divided into 20 shillings and each shilling was divided into 12 pence, making a pound worth 240 pence. With pounds and pence to be replaced by decimal currency on 14 February 1966, many names for the new currency were suggested. In 1963, the then-Prime Minister of Australia, Robert Menzies, a monarchist, wished to name the currency the royal. Other proposed names from a public naming competition included more exotic suggestions such as the austral, the oz, the boomer, the roo, the kanga, the emu, the koala, the digger, the zac, the kwid, the dinkum, the ming. Menzies' influence resulted in the selection of the royal, trial designs were prepared and printed by the Reserve Bank of Australia.
Australian treasurer and future Prime Minister, Harold Holt, announced the decision in Parliament on 5 June 1963. The royal would be subdivided into 100 cents, but the existing names shilling and crown would be retained for the 10-cent, 20-cent and 50-cent coins respectively; the name royal for the currency proved unpopular, with Holt and his wife receiving death threats. On 24 July Holt told the Cabinet the decision had been a "terrible mistake" and it would need to be revisited. On 18 September Holt advised Parliament; the pound was replaced by the dollar on 14 February 1966 with the rate of conversion as two dollars per Australian pound, or one dollar for ten Australian shillings. Since Australia was still part of the fixed-exchange sterling area, the exchange rate was fixed to the pound sterling at a rate of $1 = 8 U. K. shillings. In 1967, Australia left the sterling area, when the pound sterling was devalued against the US dollar and the Australian dollar did not follow, it maintained its peg to the US dollar at the rate of A$1 = US$1.12.
On 27 September 2012, the Reserve Bank of Australia stated that it had ordered work on a project to upgrade the current banknotes. The upgraded banknotes would incorporate a number of new future proof security features and include Braille dots for ease of use of the visually impaired; the first new banknotes were issued from 1 September 2016, with the remaining denominations to be issued in the coming years. In 1966, coins were introduced in denominations of 2, 5, 10, 20 and 50 cents; the initial 50-cent coins contained 80% silver and were withdrawn after a year when the intrinsic value of the silver content was found to exceed the face value of the coins. One-dollar coins were introduced in 1984, followed by two-dollar coins in 1988 to replace the banknotes of that value, while the one- and two-cent coins were discontinued in 1991 and withdrawn from circulation. In commemoration of the 40th anniversary of decimal currency, the 2006 mint proof and uncirculated sets included one- and two-cent coins.
In early 2013, Australia's first triangular coin was introduced to mark the 25th anniversary of the opening of Parliament House. The silver $5 coin is 99.9% silver, depicts Parliament House as viewed from one of its courtyards. Cash transactions are rounded to the nearest five cents; as with most public changes to currency systems, there has been a great amount of seignorage of the discontinued coins. All coins portray the reigning Australian Sovereign, Queen Elizabeth II, on the obverse, are produced by the Royal Australian Mint. Australia has issued commemorative 50-cent coins; the first was in 1970, commemorating James Cook's exploration along the east coast of the Australian continent, followed in 1977 by a coin for Queen Elizabeth II's Silver Jubilee, the wedding of Charles, Prince of Wales and Lady Diana Spencer in 1981, the Brisbane Commonwealth Games in 1982, the Australian Bicentenary in 1988. Issues expanded into greater numbers in the 1990s and the 21st century, responding to collector demand.
Australia has made special issues of 20-cent, one-dollar and two-dollar coins. Current Australian 5-, 10- and 20-cent coins are identical in size to the former Australian, New Zealand, British sixpence and two shillin
A coin is a small, round piece of metal or plastic used as a medium of exchange or legal tender. They are standardized in weight, produced in large quantities at a mint in order to facilitate trade, they are most issued by a government. Coins are metal or alloy, or sometimes made of synthetic materials, they are disc shaped. Coins made of valuable metal are stored in large quantities as bullion coins. Other coins are used as money in everyday transactions; the highest value coin in circulation is worth less than the lowest-value note. In the last hundred years, the face value of circulation coins has been lower than the value of the metal they contain, for example due to inflation. If the difference becomes significant, the issuing authority may decide to withdraw these coins from circulation issuing new equivalents with a different composition, or the public may decide to melt the coins down or hoard them. Exceptions to the rule of face value being higher than content value occur for some bullion coins made of copper, silver, or gold, intended for collectors or investors in precious metals.
Examples of modern gold collector/investor coins include the British sovereign minted by the United Kingdom, the American Gold Eagle minted by the United States, the Canadian Gold Maple Leaf minted by Canada, the Krugerrand, minted by South Africa. While the Eagle, Maple Leaf, Sovereign coins have nominal face values, the Krugerrand does not. A great quantity of coinage metals and other materials have been used to produce coins for circulation and metal investment: bullion coins serve as more convenient stores of assured metal quantity and purity than other bullion. Metal ingots, silver bullion or unmarked bars were in use for exchange among many of the civilizations that mastered metallurgy; the weight and purity of bullion would be the key determinant of value. In the Achaemenid Empire in the early 6th century BC, coinage was yet unknown, barter and to some extent silver bullion was used instead for trade; the practice of using silver bars for currency seems to have been current in Central Asia from the 6th century BC.
Coins were an evolution of "currency" systems of the Late Bronze Age, where standard-sized ingots, tokens such as knife money, were used to store and transfer value. In the late Chinese Bronze Age, standardized cast tokens were made, such as those discovered in a tomb near Anyang; these were replicas in bronze of earlier Chinese currency, cowrie shells, so they were named Bronze Shell. The earliest coins are associated with Iron Age Anatolia of the late 7th century BC, with the kingdom of Lydia. Early electrum coins were not standardized in weight, in their earliest stage may have been ritual objects, such as badges or medals, issued by priests; the unpredictability of the composition of occurring electrum implied that it had a variable value, which hampered its development. Most of the early Lydian coins include no writing, only an image of a symbolic animal. Therefore, the dating of these coins relies on archaeological evidence, with the most cited evidence coming from excavations at the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus called the Ephesian Artemision, site of the earliest known deposit of electrum coins.
Because the oldest lion head "coins" were discovered in that temple, they do not appear to have been used in commerce, these objects may not have been coins but badges or medals issued by the priests of that temple. Anatolian Artemis was the Πὀτνια Θηρῶν, it took some time before ancient coins were used for trade. The smallest-denomination electrum coins worth about a day's subsistence, would have been too valuable for buying a loaf of bread; the first coins to be used for retailing on a large-scale basis were small silver fractions, Ancient Greek coinage minted by the Ionian Greeks in the late sixth century BC. Many early Lydian and Greek coins were minted under the authority of private individuals and are thus more akin to tokens or badges than to modern coins, though due to their numbers it is evident that some were official state issues; the earliest inscribed coins are those of Phanes, dated to 625–600 BC from Ephesus in Ionia, with the legend ΦΑΝΕΟΣ ΕΜΙ ΣΗΜΑ, or just bearing the name ΦΑΝΕΟΣ.
The first electrum coins issued by a monarch are those minted by king Alyattes of Lydia, for which reason this king is sometimes mentioned as the originator of coinage. The successor of Alyattes, king Croesus, became associated with great wealth in Greek historiography, he is credited with issuing the Croeseid, the first true gold coins with a standardised purity for general circulation. And the world's first bimetallic monetary system circa 550 BCE. Herodotus mentioned the innovation made by the Lydians: "So far as we have any knowledge, they were the first people to introduce the use of gold and silver coins, the first who sold goods by retail" Coins spread in the 6th and 5th centuries BC, leading to the development of Ancient Greek coinage and Achaemenid coinage, further to Illyrian coinage. Standardized Roman currency
The kangaroo is a marsupial from the family Macropodidae. In common use the term is used to describe the largest species from this family those of the genus Macropus: the red kangaroo, antilopine kangaroo, eastern grey kangaroo, western grey kangaroo. Kangaroos are indigenous to Australia; the Australian government estimates that 34.3 million kangaroos lived within the commercial harvest areas of Australia in 2011, up from 25.1 million one year earlier. As with the terms "wallaroo" and "wallaby", "kangaroo" refers to a paraphyletic grouping of species. All three refer to members of the same taxonomic family and are distinguished according to size; the largest species in the family are called "kangaroos" and the smallest are called "wallabies". The term "wallaroos" refers to species of an intermediate size. There is the tree-kangaroo, another genus of macropod, which inhabits the tropical rainforests of New Guinea, far northeastern Queensland and some of the islands in the region. A general idea of the relative size of these informal terms could be: wallabies: head and body length of 45–105 cm and tail length of 33–75 cm.
Kangaroos have large, powerful hind legs, large feet adapted for leaping, a long muscular tail for balance, a small head. Like most marsupials, female kangaroos have a pouch called a marsupium in which joeys complete postnatal development; the large kangaroos have adapted much better than the smaller macropods to land clearing for pastoral agriculture and habitat changes brought to the Australian landscape by humans. Many of the smaller species are rare and endangered, while kangaroos are plentiful; the kangaroo is a symbol of Australia and appears on the Australian coat of arms and on some of its currency and is used by some of Australia's well known organisations, including Qantas and the Royal Australian Air Force. The kangaroo is important to both Australian culture and the national image, there are numerous popular culture references. Wild kangaroos are shot for meat, leather hides, to protect grazing land. Although controversial, kangaroo meat has perceived health benefits for human consumption compared with traditional meats due to the low level of fat on kangaroos.
The word "kangaroo" derives from the Guugu Yimithirr word gangurru. The name was first recorded as "kanguru" on 12 July 1770 in an entry in the diary of Sir Joseph Banks. Cook first referred to kangaroos in his diary entry of 4 August. Guugu Yimithirr is the language of the people of the area. A common myth about the kangaroo's English name is that "kangaroo" was a Guugu Yimithirr phrase for "I don't understand you." According to this legend and Banks were exploring the area when they happened upon the animal. They asked a nearby local; the local responded "Kangaroo", meaning "I don't understand you", which Cook took to be the name of the creature. This myth was debunked in the 1970s by linguist John B. Haviland in his research with the Guugu Yimithirr people. Kangaroos are colloquially referred to as "roos". Male kangaroos are called bucks, jacks, or old men; the collective noun for kangaroos is troop, or court. There are four extant species that are referred to as kangaroos: The red kangaroo is the largest surviving marsupial anywhere in the world.
It occupies the semi-arid centre of the country. The highest population densities of the red kangaroo occur in the rangelands of western New South Wales. Red kangaroos are mistaken as the most abundant species of kangaroo, but eastern greys have a larger population. A large male weighs 90 kg; the eastern grey kangaroo is less well-known than the red, but the most seen, as its range covers the fertile eastern part of the country. The range of the eastern grey kangaroo extends from the top of the Cape York Peninsula in north Queensland down to Victoria, as well as areas of south-eastern Australia and Tasmania. Population densities of eastern grey kangaroos peak near 100 per km2 in suitable habitats of open woodlands. Populations are more limited in areas of land clearance, such as farmland, where forest and woodland habitats are limited in size or abundance; the western grey kangaroo is smaller again at about 54 kg for a large male. It is found in the southern part of Western Australia, South Australia near the coast, the Darling River basin.
The highest population densities occur in the western Riverina district of New South Wales and in western areas of the Nullarbor Plain in Western Australia. Populations may have declined in agricultural areas; the species has a high tolerance to the plant toxin sodium fluoroacetate, which indicates a possible origin from the south-west region of Australia. The antilopine ka
The shilling is a unit of currency used in Austria, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, United States and other British Commonwealth countries. The shilling is used as a currency in four east African countries: Kenya, Tanzania and Somalia, it is the proposed currency that the east African community plans to introduce. The word shilling comes from old English "Scilling", a monetary term meaning twentieth of a pound, from the Proto-Germanic root skiljaną meaning'to separate, divide.' The word "Scilling" is mentioned in the earliest recorded Germanic law codes, those of Æthelberht of Kent. Slang terms for the old shilling coins include "bob" and "hog". While the derivation of "bob" is uncertain, John Camden Hotten in his 1864 Slang Dictionary says the original version was "bobstick" and speculates that it may be connected with Sir Robert Walpole. One abbreviation for shilling is s, it was represented by a solidus symbol, which may have stood for a long s or ſ, thus 1/9 would be one shilling and ninepence.
A price with no pence was sometimes written with a solidus and a dash: 11/–. The solidus symbol is still used for the Kenyan shilling, rather than sh. During the Great Recoinage of 1816, the mint was instructed to coin one troy pound of standard silver into 66 shillings, or its equivalent in other denominations; this set the weight of the shilling, its subsequent decimal replacement 5 new pence coin, at 87.2727 grains or 5.655 grams from 1816 until 1990, when a new smaller 5p coin was introduced. In the past, the English world has had various myths about the shilling. One myth was that it was deemed to be the value of a cow in a sheep elsewhere. A shilling was a coin used in England from the reign of Henry VII; the shilling continued in use after the Acts of Union of 1707 created a new United Kingdom from the Kingdoms of England and Scotland, under Article 16 of the Articles of Union, a common currency for the new United Kingdom was created. The term shilling was in use in Scotland from early medieval times.
The common currency created in 1707 by Article 16 of the Articles of Union continued in use until decimalisation in 1971. In the traditional pounds and pence system, there were 20 shillings per pound and 12 pence per shilling, thus there were 240 pence in a pound. Three coins denominated in multiple shillings were in circulation at this time, they were: two shillings, which adopted the value of 10 new pence at decimalisation. At decimalisation in 1971, the shilling coin was superseded by the new five-pence piece, of identical size and weight and had the same value, inherited the shilling's slang name of a bob. Shillings remained in circulation until the five pence coin was reduced in size in 1991. Between 1701 and the unification of the currencies in 1825, the Irish shilling was valued at 13 pence and known as the "black hog", as opposed to the 12-pence English shillings which were known as "white hogs". In the Irish Free State and Republic of Ireland the shilling coin was issued as scilling in Irish.
It was worth 1/20th of an Irish pound, was interchangeable at the same value to the British coin, which continued to be used in Northern Ireland. The coin featured a bull on the reverse side; the first minting, from 1928 until 1941, contained 75% silver, more than the equivalent British coin. The original Irish shilling coin ) was withdrawn from circulation on 1 January 1993, when a smaller five pence coin was introduced. Australian shillings, twenty of which made up one Australian pound, were first issued in 1910, with the Australian coat of arms on the reverse and King Edward VII on the face; the coat of arms design was retained through the reign of King George V until a new ram's head design was introduced for the coins of King George VI. This design continued until the last year of issue in 1963. In 1966, Australia's currency was decimalised and the shilling was replaced by a ten cent coin, where 10 shillings made up one Australian dollar; the slang term for a shilling coin in Australia was "deener".
The slang term for a shilling as currency unit was "bob", the same as in the United Kingdom. After 1966, shillings continued to circulate, as they were replaced by 10-cent coins of the same size and weight. New Zealand shillings, twenty of which made up one New Zealand pound, were first issued in 1933 and featured the image of a Maori warrior carrying a taiaha "in a warlike attitude" on the reverse. In 1967, New Zealand's currency was decimalised and the shilling was replaced by a ten cent coin of the same size and weight. Ten cent coins minted through the remainder of the 1960s included the legend "ONE SHILLING" on the reverse. Smaller 10-cent coins were introduced in 2006. Shillings were used in Malta, prior to decimalisation in 1972, had a face value of five Maltese cents. In British Ceylon, an shilling was equivalent to eight fanams. With the replacement of the rixdollar by the rupee in 1852, a shilling was deemed to be equivalent to half a rupee. On the decimalisation of the currency
The feathertail glider known as the pygmy gliding possum, pygmy glider, pygmy phalanger, flying phalanger and flying mouse, is a species of marsupial native to eastern Australia. It is named for its long feather-shaped tail. A second species, the Broad-toed Feathertail Glider is recognised by some authors based on unpublished genetic studies and cryptic morphological differences in toe and tail characteristics. At just 6.5 to 8 cm in head-and-body length and weighing about 12 g, the feathertail glider is only around the size of a small mouse, is the world's smallest gliding mammal. The fur is soft and silky, is a uniform greyish brown on the upper body, white on the underside. There are rings of dark fur around the eyes, the rhinarium is hairless and cleft, the ears are moderately large and rounded; the glider has an unusually large number of whiskers, sprouting from the snout and cheeks, from the base of each ear. Like other gliding mammals, the feathertail glider has a patagium stretching between the fore and hind legs.
Only reaching the elbows and knees, this is smaller than that of the petaurid gliding possums, although the presence of a fringe of long hairs increases its effective area. The tail is about the same length as the head and body combined, oval in cross-section, only prehensile, has short fur except for two distinctive rows of long, stiff hairs on either side; this gives the tail the appearance of a double-sided comb. The hindfeet possess enlarged, opposable first digits, which unlike all the other toes on both fore and hind feet, lack claws; the tongue is long and thin, reaching as much as 11 mm, has numerous long papillae that give it a brush-like appearance. This improves the animal's ability to consume semi-liquid food; the structure of the ear is unusual, since the animal possesses a unique bony disc with a narrow crescent-shaped slit just in front of the eardrum. The function of this bone is unclear, but it may act as a Helmholtz resonator and enhance sensitivity to certain frequencies of sound.
The brain has been recorded as weighing 360 milligrams. The female has two vaginae, which merge into a single sinus before opening into a cloaca together with the rectum; the pouch opens towards the front, as is common in diprotodont marsupials, contains four teats. Feathertail gliders are found across the eastern seaboard of continental Australia, from northern Queensland to Victoria and extreme south-eastern South Australia. There are no recognised subspecies, they inhabit a wide range of forest types across the region, from sea level to at least 1,200 m Fossils belonging to the genus Acrobates have been identified from deposits in Queensland dating back to 0.5 million years ago, during the late Pleistocene. Feathertail gliders are omnivorous, feeding on nectar and arthropods such as moths and termites, they are arboreal, although they do descend to the ground to forage, they spend as much as 87% of their time over 15 m above the ground in eucalyptus trees. They are nocturnal, spending the day resting in nests in tree hollows, lined with leaves or shredded bark.
They are social animals, up to five may share a single nest during the breeding season. They are adept climbers, able to cling to the smooth trunks of eucalyptus trees. In experiments, they have proved able to climb vertical panes of glass, a feat, due to a combination of fine skin ridges and sweat that allow their feet to function as suction cups. Movement through the trees is aided by their gliding ability. Feathertail gliders do not hibernate as such, but are capable of entering torpor during cold weather at any time of the year. Torpor can last for several days, during which time the animal's body temperature can drop to as low as 2 °C and oxygen consumption to just 1% of normal. Torpid gliders curl into a ball, wrapping their tail around themselves and folding their ears flat, huddling together with up to four other individuals to reduce heat loss and conserve energy; the breeding season lasts from July to January in Victoria, may be longer further to the north. Females give birth to two litters of up to four young in a season, are able to mate again shortly after the first litter is born.
The second litter enters embryonic diapause, is not born until the first litter has finished weaning at about 105 days. Multiple paternity is common within litters, as the females are sexually promiscuous; the young remain in the pouch for the first 65 days of life, the maximum lifespan is about five years. The New Zoo in Poznań, was the first European zoo to breed feathertail gliders in 1999; some of the feathertail gliders born in Poznań have been sent to other European zoos, meaning that the entire European captive population is of Poznań descent. Australia's Taronga Zoo was the first zoo to breed feathertail gliders in captivity. A Feathertail glider was featured on the reverse of the Australian 1-cent coin until 1991. Photos and information about the feathertail glider — Wildlife Preservation Society of Queensland Photos and information about the feathertail glider — University of Michigan Museum of Zoology