Bandicoots and bilbies (Marsupialia : Peramelemorphia) represent the dominant omnivorous clade of Australasian marsupials and, as ground-dwelling, small- to medium-sized mammals, have not fared well in the 200 years since European settlement. Unlike large or charismatic marsupial species, the cryptic nature of bandicoots and bilbies tends to keep them out of the public eye, at a time when public interest plays a significant role in conservation efforts. The inconspicuous ‘rat-like’ appearance of many bandicoots and a generalist ecological strategy belie a complex biology of adaptive traits and evolutionary diversity. For a few species these biological traits have enabled them to make use of urban environments. In the main, however, peramelemorphians are facing ongoing pressure from introduced predators and human impacts. Basic biological information for many species, particularly those from New Guinea, is still lacking. In this review, we examine advances in the knowledge of the biology of this group over the past 25 years including anatomical, physiological and ecological studies. We also provide a comprehensive review of the fossil records of bandicoots in order to provide an up-to-date platform for future studies. From this work, it is clear that there is still much to be done regarding the taxonomy and biology of these animals before a more detailed understanding of the evolutionary history of this group can be elucidated.
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