Kangaroos and Reproduction

Kangaroos and Reproduction


Kangaroos have three vaginas. The side ones carry sperm to the two uteruses, while the middle one is for giving birth


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Kangaroos, Koalas, wombats and, Tasmanian devils all share the three-vagina structure. The side ones carry sperm to the two uteruses (and males marsupials often have two-pronged penises), while the middle vagina sends the joey down to the outside world.

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.

The program also 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 setup, 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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