One of the largest and most abundant of all kangaroos, the western grey kangaroo has light grey-brown to dark chocolate-brown fur, a finely-haired muzzle, and large ears, fringed with white hairs (2) (3) (4). The fur is often flecked with grey above and is paler below, with dark feet and forepaws, a black tip to the tail, and buff patches on the legs and forearms (4). The powerful, enlarged hindquarters enable the familiar leaping mode of locomotion, aided by the long tail, which acts as a balance and a rudder (2), and by an ankle which is adapted to prevent the foot rotating sideways, so that the kangaroo cannot twist its ankle while hopping (5). The male western grey kangaroo is much larger than the female (4), with longer and more muscular shoulders and forearms, more heavily clawed forepaws, and thickened skin over the belly, which helps absorb the impact of kicks during fights (5). The adult male also has a strong, curry-like odour, lending it the common name of 'stinker' (3). Two subspecies of western grey kangaroo are recognised (3) (6). Macropus fuliginosus fuliginosus, the Kangaroo Island western grey kangaroo, is a dark sooty brown on the back, with shorter limbs, ears and tail. Macropus fuliginosus melanops is variable across its mainland range, being stockier in the east and south, with darker brown on the head and back, and bluish-grey fur underneath. Although previously divided into two forms, M. f. melanops and M. f. ocydromus, this subspecies is now known to form a single, gradually changing population, or cline, across its range (3). The western grey kangaroo can be distinguished from the closely related eastern grey kangaroo, Macropus giganteus, by its browner fur, darker colouration around the head, and sometimes by a blackish patch around the elbow (3).
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