Animal Database

Hi Homo sapien! Welcome to Animal Database! Anyway, did you know that you're 60% genetically similar to banana trees?


Animal Database
Animal Database
Broad-faced Potoroo
Range South Australia to the Western Australian coast, and possibly as far north as North West Cape.
Scientific Classification
Kingdom Animalia
Phylum Chordata
Class Mammalia
Order Diprotodontia
Family Potoroidae
Genus Potorous
Species Potorous platyops
Conservation Status

The Broad-faced Potoroo (Potorous platyops), is an extinct species of potoroo that once lived in Australia. The first specimen was collected in 1839 and described by John Gould in 1844, but even then it was rare and only a handful of specimens were ever collected, the last in 1875. Subfossil remains indicate that it originally had an extensive distribution from the semiarid coastal districts of South Australia to the Western Australian coast, and possibly as far north as North West Cape.

The habits of the broad-faced potoroo are almost entirely unknown. It clearly avoided the fertile forested areas that its relatives the the long-nosed and long-footed potoroos inhabit. It is unusual amongst recently extinct Australian vertebrates in that it appears to have declined significantly before the European settlement of Australia.

Preserved specimens indicate that it was smaller than the other potoroos at around 24 cm long with an 18-cm tail. The coat was grizzled grey above and dirty white below, the body similar in shape to that of a large rat. The ears were small and rounded, the muzzle was fairly short, and the cheeks were notably puffy.


The first description was published by John Gould, using a specimen obtained by his collector John Gilbert at "Walyema Swamps near Northam, Western Australia". Gilbert visited this inland region while collecting around the recently established Swan River Colony. The site he referred to was determined to be Lake Walyormouring.

The single specimen forwarded to Gould was presented to the Linnean Society of London, and the partial skull and skin of a female was deposited in the British Museum of Natural History. There were few collected after Gould's initial description. There was one animal collected by James Drummond and recorded in a letter in the 1840s, the collector George Masters prepared four specimens in the 1860s, presumably when he made a large collection of taxa at Mordup. The last collection of living Potorous platyops was in 1874, collected by William Webb and are now held at the Macleay Museum in Sydney.

The curator and collector Hedley H. Finlaysondescribed the remains of a potoroine animal found in a South Australian cave, which were similar to the potorous platyops. However, the bones were retrieved from a site far from where the potorous platyops was thought to be found, as well as the teeth being different than previously collections specimens. He ended up naming it as a new species, potorous morgani. The specimen was later identified as a potorous platyops. The skull that was studied and was held at a South Australian museum, amongst a deposit of multiple taxa from Kelly's Hill Caves, which was collected by A.M. Morgan. The specific epithet morganirefers to the collector. Finlayson's 1934 description recognised a close similarity to this species. When he obtained more specimens, which were collected at the same cave system on Kangaroo Island by Edith May, he obtained a second partial skull. Comparison of the dentition and other morphological characteristics was limited to works published by G. R. Waterhouse (1846), Oldfield Thomas (1888) and B. Arthur Bensley(1903) whose descriptions of P. platyops are recorded at the BMNH.

Common names include broad-faced potoroo and a name from the Nyungar language, moda,which was recorded by Gilbert and noted in Gould's 1844 description as 'mor-da', and mort or moort by other ecologists writing shortly after its extinction. The name was obtained through an interview with Nyungar peoples at King George Sound by Gilbert. . Early records show that it was also named the broad-faced rat kangaroo.