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Volume 80, Issue 3


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

Maurício E. Graipel
  • Corresponding author
  • Departamento de Ecologia e Zoologia, Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina, CEP: 88040-970, Florianópolis, Santa Catarina, Brazil
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/ Ricardo T. Santori
  • Núcleo de Pesquisa e Ensino de Ciências, Departamento de Ciências, Faculdade de Formação de Professores, Universidade do Estado do Rio de Janeiro. Rua Dr. Francisco Portela, 1470, Patronato. 24435-000, São Gonçalo, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
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Published Online: 2015-05-07 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/mammalia-2014-0135


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.

Keywords: aquatic habits; bilateral undulation; marsupial; neotropical mammals; swimming behavior


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About the article

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

Received: 2014-09-11

Accepted: 2015-03-31

Published Online: 2015-05-07

Published in Print: 2016-05-01

Citation Information: Mammalia, Volume 80, Issue 3, Pages 321–323, ISSN (Online) 1864-1547, ISSN (Print) 0025-1461, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/mammalia-2014-0135.

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