General Zoology/Opossum

General Zoology, Volume 1 by George Shaw
Didelphis. Opossum.


Generic Character.

Dentes Primores minuti, rotundati. Front-teeth small, rounded.
Superiores decem, intermediis duobus longioribus. Superior ten, the two middle ones longer.
Inferiores octo, intermediis duobus latioribus brevissimus. Inferior eight, the two middle ones broader and very short.
Laniarii longi. Canine-teeth long.
Molares denticulati. Grinders denticulated.
Lingua papillis ciliata. Tongue ciliated with papillæ.
Foliculus (plerisque) abdominalis mammarum. Abdominal pouch (in most species) containing the teats.

THE animals of this highly singular genus first became known to naturalists on the discovery of the Western Continent, and most justly excited the admiration of the philosophic world, by the strange, and, till then, unheard-of contrivance of Nature for the protection and preservation of the young; which, instead of being exposed, like other animals, during their state of hepless imbecility to the casualties incident to that period, were securely concealed in a pouch or receptable situated under the body of the parent. The Opossums were long supposed to be peculiar to America; but later discoveries have evinced that several species, unknown to America, exist in other parts of the globe. It is necessary to observe, that a degree of confusion still prevails among authors, relative to the synonyms of the different species.