Monito Del Monte: The “little mountain monkey” of South America is not a monkey, but rather a marsupial, thought to have arrived from Australia long ago. It’s tiny – only about 5″ full grown. They are nocturnal and carnivorous, and famous (well, among scientists) for their unusual tail, which can store enough fat to make this little pipsqueak double in size. This allows them to go for long periods without food. Sadly, the always-prepared monito del monte is in danger of extinction.
Spanish for “little mountain monkey,” the monito del monte (Dromiciops gliroides) is a diminutive marsupial notable for being the only extant member of the ancient taxonomic order Microbiotheria, as well as the only member of the superorder Australidelphia that is indigenous to the Americas. Which isn’t to say that there aren’t marsupials native to North and South America. Virginia opossums and their ilk are simply members of a different taxon: Ameridelphia.
Monito del Monte or "mountain monkey" (a marsupial not a monkey) is regarded by scientists as a living fossil, as it is the only surviving member of an entire order of marsupials. Only slightly larger than a mouse this little marsupial is an excellent climber. The base of the prehensile tail is capable of storing fat, which enables the animals to hibernate during the winter when food is scarce. Found in Chile & Argentina it is listed as vulnerable due to habitate loss. Image: via Flickr