Marsupials are amazing creatures. Baffling and kind of weird, yes, but also totally amazing.
Part of their mystique seems to stem from their uncanny same-but-differentness. After all, koalas sort of look like bears, and wombats resemble chubby rodents. But though marsupials are very much a part of the mammal family, they are also quite different -- in magnificent and bizarre ways -- from the mammals that you might be more accustomed to.
Last week, YouTube personality Ze Frank explored some of these fascinating marsupial facts in an irreverently entertaining video about the animals.
In the clip, which has already racked up almost 2 million views, Ze Frank discusses everything from kangaroo babies to wombat penises -- and we're pretty sure that each new nugget of marsupial knowledge will blow your mind.
Did you know, for instance, that marsupial babies typically emerge from their mothers as teeny, helpless embryos? Unlike placental mammals (like humans, dogs and whales), marsupial females don't have a complex placenta to protect a developing embryo. Instead, most have pouches where their newborns grow.
In the case of the kangaroo, for instance, the newborn joey -- tiny, hairless and blind -- emerges from the birth canal and needs to climb up to its mother's pouch, where it will latch onto a nipple and slowly mature.
This wriggly thing is a newborn kangaroo:
According to LiveScience, some kangaroo joeys remain in their mother's pouch for up to 400 days before hopping out into the world.
Speaking of marsupial babies, Ze Frank's new video also discusses the eyebrow-raising eating habits of baby koalas.
Eucalyptus leaves, a koala's primary food source, are poisonous to most animals; but adult koalas, thanks in part to unique microbes that live in their digestive tract, are able to eat the leaves safely. Koala joeys, however, do not have these microbes in their system when they're born, so to get them, they eat their mother's “fecal pap.” Yep, that's right. Koala babies eat their mom's poop.
Watch Ze Frank's video above for more illuminating marsupial facts. It'll certainly be food for thought.