A baby wallaby has been studied in the womb for the very first time using safe high-resolution ultrasound technology which allowed the German and Australian team of researchers to gather real-time views during the mother’s brief pregnancy. This species, called the tammar wallaby, develops from a tiny embryo of only 100 cells into a baby ready to be born in only 26 days. The study was performed at the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (IZW) in Germany.
Wallabies are small species of kangaroos, and the tammar wallaby, known to science as Macropus eugenii, is the smallest species of all. Only one baby is born at a time, a tiny creature weighing less than half a gram.
Like all kangaroos, immediately after birth, the baby must climb to the mother’s pouch and attach itself to one of the nipples located there. It will remain in the pouch for up to nine months as it continues to grow and develop.
One of the exciting findings from the ultrasound was that the baby wallaby practices its climbing motion to develop its arm muscles for three days before it’s born.
But the researchers noted a special challenge with performing an ultrasound exam on a wallaby. The species has three vaginas and two wombs — so guiding the instrument is not always straightforward.
While the IZW tammar wallaby is receiving the best of high-tech prenatal care and attention, its wild counterparts have experienced some difficulties. According to the Kangaroo Protection Coalition, a kangaroo advocacy group, the Australia and New Zealand species has already seen its population wiped out in southeastern Australia.
It’s also struggling in western Australia.
However, on Kangaroo Island, there is such a large population that, at times, it has been regarded as a pest and even a road hazard. Like other nocturnal herbivores, tammar wallabies can suffer from Bambi-in-the-headlights syndrome where they freeze up in the headlights of oncoming cars. Drivers are advised to be very cautious at night to avoid hitting them.
But this little cutie doesn’t have to worry about that. Check out the ultrasound and newborn baby pictures courtesy Dr. Kathleen Röllig and the IZW:
Awwww. Admit it. You didn’t know that a baby wallaby could be that cute, did you?