Phalangerid Hybrids

Family Phalangeridae



Abbreviation Key >>

Ground Cuscus
Ground Cuscus

Note: Cuscuses are eaten by humans and have likely been dispersed to many South Pacific islands when carried as a source of food on long canoe voyages. Corbet and Hill 1992 (p. 14).

Phalanger sp. [Cuscuses]
× Strigocuscus sp. [Ground Cuscuses] There has been debate whether two populations (ornatus, rothschildi) should be assigned to Phalanger or Strigocuscus. Ground Cuscuses occur on Sulawesi (S. celebensis) and in the western Moluccas (S. pelengensis) on Peleng and Taliabu. Phalangerids occur in Australia, New Guinea, the Aru Islands, and southern Moluccas. The intervening central and northern Moluccas harbor ornatus (Obi and Bisa islands) and rothschildi (Halmahera, Bacan). Given the affinity of these two populations to both Phalanger and Strigocuscus, and their geographic intermediacy, they are both PHPs of this cross. Corbet and Hill (p. 15); Feiler 1978a, 1978b; Flannery et al. 1987; Nowak 1999 (vol. 1, p. 91).

Phalanger intercastellanus [Southern Common Cuscus]
× Phalanger orientalis [Northern Common Cuscus] In a paper that split these taxa, Colgan et al. (1995) discuss the possibility that these cuscuses hybridize. They conclude that evidence for hybridization is wanting. However, they seem not to have taken samples from the contact zone since they say (p. 373) that the region of possible hybridization is “somewhere west of the Sattelberg Mission located near the eastern end of the Huon Peninsula” (eastern Papua New Guinea).

Note: Regarding Spilococus maculatus in New Guinea, Flannery (1995, p. 182) said it was as yet unknown whether the various populations treated as subspecies hybridize where their ranges meet.

Spilococus kraemeri [Admirality Cuscus]
× Spilococus maculatus [Common Spotted Cuscus] CHR. CON: Bismarck Archipelago? Kualke 1996; Singadan 1996.

Strigocuscus sp. [Ground Cuscuses] See: Phalanger sp.

Trichosurus vulpecula
Common Brush-tail Possum
(Trichosurus vulpecula)

Trichosurus arnhemensis [Northern Brush-tail Possum]
× Trichosurus vulpecula (♀) [Common Brush-tail Possum] CHR. CON: northern Northern Territory, Australia? HPF(♂&♀). These possums differ in behavior and morphology and were long treated as separate species, but were lumped by Kerle et al., in part because they were found to produce fertile hybrids in captivity. Fertility was confirmed only in males, but this suggests that females, too, should be fertile (by Haldane’s rule). Kerle 1983; Kerle et al. 1991.

Trichosurus fuliginosus [Tasmanian Brush-tail Possum]
× Trichosurus vulpecula [Common Brush-tail Possum] CHR. DRS. Hybridization in captivity is reported between two geographically disjunct types (fuliginosus, vulpecula) formerly treated as separate species, but now as races of T. vulpecula. Hope 1970; How 1972; Zoological Society of London 1861 (p. 24).

Trichosurus vulpecula [Common Brush-tail Possum]
See also: Trichosurus arnhemensis; T. fuliginosus.
× Felis catus [Domestic Cat] CHR?? In 1872, Alexander Callender Purdie (1824-1899), a member of the Royal Society of New Zealand, discussed before a meeting of the society (Purdie 1872), an alleged hybrid of this sort, which he says was "presented to the society by Mr. Jennings as a cross between a cat and an opossum, said to be bred by Mr. Jones, of Ballarat, Australia." It is unclear exactly what animal Purdie was referring to with the name "opossum," but opossum is a name used in New Zealand, to refer to Trichosurus vulpecula (the common crush-tailed possum, and which seems to have been the only animal familiarly known in New Zealand as an opossum at that time). Of course, any such cross would be extremely distant. T. vulpecula is a marsupial and F. catus is a eutherian mammal, so any such hybrid would be between animals belonging to what are usually rated as distinct superorders or subclasses (Marsupialia and Eutheria) of Order Mammalia. See also the separate article: "Domestic Cat × Virginia Opossum."

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By the same author: Handbook of Avian Hybrids of the World, Oxford University Press (2006).

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