Friday, July 22, 2016


Female kangaroos have two uteri, one pouch and three vaginas allowing them to be perpetually pregnant.

Female kangaroos (and other mammals) have one vaginal opening, which leads to one tube - just like placental mammals but in a kangaroo, this vaginal tube then divides into three tubes. The middle one (called the medial or median vagina) is the passage down which the kangaroo embryo travels during birth.

During sexual intercourse, the male kangaroo's s-shaped penis enters one of the two lateral vaginae.

Note that the ureters, which carry urine from the kidneys to the bladder, pass through the gaps between the three tubes. In placental mammals, like us, the ureters develop in a different way, and don’t go through the reproductive system. As we develop, the precursors to the reproductive tubes eventually fuse into a single vagina. In marsupials, this can’t happen.

It is suggested that this might explain why marsupial embryos are born at such a premature stage of development. A kangaroo’s joey is about the size of a jellybean when it leaves the vagina, and it must endure an arduous crawl into the pouch. It’s possible that with such a narrow tube to go down, it couldn’t get any bigger before its birth.

With its complicated reproductive set-up, a female kangaroo can be perpetually pregnant. While one joey is developing inside the pouch, another embryo is held in reserve in a uterus, waiting for its sibling to grow up and leave. Indeed, a mother kangaroo can nourish three separate youngsters at a time – an older joey that has left the pouch, a young one developing inside it, and an embryo still waiting to be born.


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