Life of Marsupials

Download by chapter

eBook - April 2005 - eRetailers Google Books Kobo

A complete overview of marsupial biology and explores how marsupials have evolved.

Over the past half a century research has revealed that marsupials – far from being ‘second class’ mammals – have adaptations for particular ways of life quite equal to their placental counterparts. Despite long separate evolution, there are extraordinary similarities in which marsupials have solved the challenges of living in such environments as deserts, alpine snowfields or tropical rainforests. Some can live on grass, some on pollen and others on leaves; some can glide, some can swim and others hop with extraordinary efficiency. + Full description

In Life of Marsupials, one of the world’s leading experts explores the biology and evolution of this unusual group – with their extraordinary diversity of forms around the world – in Australia, New Guinea and South America.

Joint winner of the 2005 Whitley Medal.

Included in Choice Magazine's 2006 Outstanding Academic Titles list.

- Short description


No longer available in a print edition.


"Think you know a lot about marsupials? Get ready to be humbled. Reading Life of Marsupials was a personal revelation. What I didn't know about these intruiging and often poorly understood mammals far outweighed the body of knowledge I previously possessed. Insight upon insight is presented in a comprehensive, holistic, and enaging manner. His writing style is at once authoritative and personal, without being condescending or didactic…the reader gains an informed appreciation for what it means and what it takes to be a marsupial."
Daniel K Maloney, Zoo Biology, Vol. 28, 2009

"This text is a complete, high-quality reference on the life history of marsupials. The photographs are of the highest quality, the line drawings, graphs, and tables are appropriate and easy to understand. It is one of the most thoroughly written texts on marsupials to the reviewer’s knowledge."
Kirk Suedmeyer, Journal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine Vol 38, 2007

"This book is a goldmine for teachers as well as researchers. Tyndale-Biscoe has come close to that goal many of us attempt - to produce a volume that is a helpful reference, a useful textbook for tertiary courses, and a valuable addition to the library of any naturalist."
Michael L. Augee, Quarterly Review of Biology, March 2007

"This new edition improves and updates an already excellent book. It's a marvellous resource for scholars of every level. The book is easy to read and is effectively and attractively illustrated. I recommend it to everyone interested in biology."
Robert L Close, Australian Zoologist, Vol. 33, No. 3, June 2006

"All-in-all, this edition provides a superb, up-to-date synopsis of the biology of marsupials. It is well written and accessible to any reader. CSIRO Publishing have produced an attractive book, including a good selection of colour plates, as well as numerous consistently clear and informative black and white figures. The quality of editing and proofing is exemplary. There is no book that covers what we know of the life of marsupials so well."
Peter J. Jarman, Austral Ecology, Vol. 31, Issue 5, August 2006

"It is amazing that a single individual has had the discipline and knowledge to put together such an impressive book. This book represents a rich source of information and synthesis for those interested in marsupial biology. Anyone interested in the conservation of native marsupial species should read this volume."
Marcelo R Sanchez-Villagra, Journal of Mammalian Evolution, Vol. 13, No. 1, March 2006

"Hugh Tyndale-Biscoe authoritatively presents the amassed wealth of marsupial-focussed scientific endeavour of the last 35 years and integrates it into the vast body of information contained in the first edition, published in 1970. . .The book is an incredible resource."
Alan Barton, natural historian, Wildlife Australia Magazine, Summer 2005

". . . a readable and wide-ranging introduction to the genus as a whole."
Nicholas Gould, International Zoo News, Vol. 52, Number 6, 2005

"While there is a lot of detail, and some in depth scientific information, Life of Marsupials is quite accessible for readers with interests in zoology, or natural history. The insightful discussions of the remarkable lifestyles of these mammals make for a very enjoyable read."
Natalie Warburton, Science Network WA

"While the book is based on his original 1973 publication (of the same title), the author enriches this new edition with his lifetime's experiences and insights."
Savannah Links issue 32 January-June 2005

"This book will be a goldmine for teachers as well as researchers. Tyndale-Biscoe has come close to that goal many of us attempt - to produce a volume that is a helpful reference, a useful textbook for tertiary courses, and a valuable addition to the library of any naturalist."
Michael L Augee, Quarterly Review of Biology, March 2006

"Life of Marsupials is a remarkable book. It is a brilliant act of individual scholarship and a crowning achievement of a research career on this fabulous group of animals… An encyclopaedic work of excellence."
Daniel Lunney, Historical Records of Australian Science, Vol. 17, 2006


ePDF | April 2005
ISBN: 9780643092204
Publisher: CSIRO Publishing
Available from eRetailers


  • Written by a leading expert on marsupial biology
  • Covers all marsupials in Australia, New Guinea and South America
  • Colour photos of 39 species


Chapter 1 – What is a marsupial?
Chapter 2 – Reproduction and development
Chapter 3 – Opossums of the Americas: cousins from a distant time
Chapter 4 – Predatory marsupials of Australasia: bright-eyed killers of the night
Chapter 5 – Bandicoots: fast-living opportunists
Chapter 6 – Pygmy possums and sugar gliders: pollen eaters and sap suckers
Colour Plates
Chapter 7 – Life in the trees: koala, greater glider and possum
Chapter 8 – Wombats: vegetarians of the underworld
Chapter 9 – Consummate kangaroos
Chapter 10 – Marsupials and people: past and present


For more than 40 years, Hugh Tyndale-Biscoe has been at the cutting edge of marsupial research, from brushtail possums in New Zealand, to quokkas in Western Australia, and from tammar wallabies in New South Wales to opossums in South America. His original text, Life of Marsupials, published in 1973 was the first textbook on marsupials. In this completely re-written edition, he brings a lifetime’s experience and masterly insights into the lives of this unusual group of mammals.