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  • At first glance, a kangaroo's pouch

  • looks like nothing but a built-in baby sling.

  • But if you peeked inside,

  • you'd see it's far more complex than a simple pocket.

  • It has to be, because the joey inside

  • is not your average baby.

  • An adult male red kangaroo can stand over

  • 1 1/2 meters tall and weigh 90 kilograms.

  • That's larger than a grown man.

  • But the newborns start out the size of jelly beans.

  • They're blind, deaf, and hairless to boot.

  • After all, they only spend 33 days

  • inside their mom before birth.

  • That's like a human having a baby

  • when she's two months pregnant.

  • So the underdeveloped roo isn't ready to face

  • the harsh Australian wilderness.

  • That's where the pouch comes in.

  • It's a pocket of skin that acts like a second womb,

  • giving the joey a safe, cozy environment to grow.

  • And, like a pregnant belly,

  • the pouch can stretch to fit the baby as it gets bigger.

  • It's lined with powerful,

  • but flexible, muscles and ligaments.

  • To keep the joey safe, mom can tighten those muscles

  • to shut the pouch flush against her body,

  • just like pulling a drawstring bag closed.

  • And it will need the extra space,

  • because over the course of eight months,

  • that bean-sized baby will reach the size

  • of a large house cat.

  • That's thousands of times its birth weight.

  • That rapid growth is thanks to the pouch's four nipples,

  • which spout milk that contains germ-fighting antibodies

  • to keep the little roo from getting sick.

  • But that's just the start.

  • You see, the nutrient levels change

  • to meet the baby's needs as it ages.

  • For example, sulfur, a major building block of hair,

  • peaks around three months in.

  • That's the same time the baby starts growing fur.

  • The best part?

  • Mom can produce multiple types of milk at the same time,

  • each squirting from its own nipple.

  • So she can suckle two babies

  • in different age groups simultaneously.

  • Another special feature about the kangaroo pouch

  • is that it's lined with sweat glands

  • that release antimicrobial substances,

  • which help protect the baby roos

  • from harmful viruses, bacteria, and parasites.

  • But there's one more way that pouch's design

  • keeps the joey safe.

  • It's totally hairless, and that skin-to-skin contact

  • keeps the baby warm and cozy.

  • Basically, it's the ultimate nursery.

  • But nothing lasts forever.

  • Eventually, the joey will need to leave the pouch.

  • At about 5 months old, it pokes its head out.

  • And a month later, it takes its first tentative

  • steps into the world.

  • There, it will explore for a few short seconds

  • before high-tailing it home.

  • But as it gets older and bolder, it stays out longer,

  • until eight months in:

  • It's ready to leave the nest, well, the pouch, for good.

At first glance, a kangaroo's pouch

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B2 pouch baby joey kangaroo roo skin

What’s Inside A Kangaroo’s Pouch?

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    林宜悉 posted on 2020/10/23
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