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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter May 7, 2015

Aquatic locomotion of the terrestrial opossum Didelphis aurita (Didelphimorphia, Didelphidae) using undulatory swimming mode

Maurício E. Graipel and Ricardo T. Santori
From the journal Mammalia


This note reports the first record of undulatory swimming mode by the black-eared opossum Didelphis aurita. The record was made in a stream running through the Atlantic Rain Forest in Southern Brazil. After the individual was released, it dove into the stream to escape, swimming using undulation of its trunk and tail. In general, terrestrial mammals use similar gaits to walk and swim. The lateral undulation of the trunk and tail observed during the diving of D. aurita was similar to that seen in quadruped diagonal gaits in terrestrial habitats, but swimming without use of fore and hind limbs is a behavior unique to aquatic locomotion, increasing the locomotor repertoire of this species.

Corresponding author: Maurício E. Graipel, Departamento de Ecologia e Zoologia, Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina, CEP: 88040-970, Florianópolis, Santa Catarina, Brazil, e-mail:


We would like to thank Gina Aredes and Juliana Telles for drawing the opossum’s locomotion, Dr. Paul Richard Miller for the English corrections and two anonymous reviewers for their comments on the manuscript. The research was supported in part by Fundação Carlos Chagas Filho de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado do Rio de Janeiro (FAPERJ), and Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior (CAPES).


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Received: 2014-9-11
Accepted: 2015-3-31
Published Online: 2015-5-7
Published in Print: 2016-5-1

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