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UCL Culture Blog


News and musings from the UCL Culture team


Specimen of the Week: Week Nine

By Emma-Louise Nicholls, on 12 December 2011

Scary MonkeyWell now my dedicated and trusted readers (I choose to believe that you exist in this format), I am currently in sunny Mexico trampling across Mayan and Aztec ruins, filling my brain with more knowledge than its natural capacity, and hopefully chasing a spider monkey troop or two.


I do not want you to feel as though I have abandoned you in a capricious bout of neglect and so I have found a most genius way to make you feel as though you are still with me. Our specimen of the week is a Mexican species and I promise that if I should be lucky enough to see one, I will take a snapshot for you and post it here upon my return for your much sought approval. This week’s specimen of the week is:




1) The Mexican mouse opossum primarily lives in trees and can be found amongst the foliage up to 30 metres above the ground. Given that on all fours, they are only about 6 cm high, scaled up that is the equivalent of about 900 metres high, to you and me. Well, probably you, I’m quite short.


Mr Mexican Mouse Oppossum Close-up

Mr Mexican Mouse Oppossum (Marmosa mexicana) Close-up. LDUCZ-Z2587

2) No-one knows a lot about the Mexican mouse opossum (maybe because no-one has such a head for heights). However, scientists believe that they live in either ‘burrows in the ground’, or ‘nests in the trees’. Helpful.


3) I think valid fact number three should be this is the cutest darn thing you’ll ever see (cutest mammal anyway, otherwise obviously sharks would win). It just makes you want to take it out of its pickling jar (whilst conveniently dispelling the image in your mind of what it would undoubtedly consequently look like if you should in fact do so) and give it a scruffle behind the furry ears.


4) The Mexican mouse opossum is a marsupial, but it doesn’t have a pouch – the tiny young just hang off teats in the open.


Mr Mexican Mouse Oppossum

Mr Mexican Mouse Oppossum

5) Another species of mouse opossum, in the same genus as ours, is the Anderson’s mouse opossum. It is only known from a single individual collected in 1954, currently living (in a museum-specimen stored-in-a-cabinet kind of way) in the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago.


If you would like to adopt the little male Mexican mouse opossum at the Grant Museum of Zoology, please get in touch at zoology.museum@ucl.ac.uk.

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