A kangaroo is a marsupial from the family Macropodidae (macropods, meaning â€˜large footâ€™). In common use the term is used to describe the largest species from this family, the Red Kangaroo, the Antilopine Kangaroo, and the Eastern and Western Grey Kangaroo of the Macropus genus. The family also includes many smaller species which include the wallabies, tree-kangaroos, wallaroos, pademelons and the Quokka, some 63 living species in all.
Kangaroos are endemic to the continent of Australia, while the smaller macropods are found in Australia and New Guinea.
In general, larger kangaroos have adapted much better to changes wrought to the Australian landscape by humans and though many of their smaller cousins are endangered, they are plentiful. They are not farmed to any extent, but wild kangaroos are shot for meat, over which there is controversy.
The kangaroo is an Australian icon: it is featured on the Australian coat of arms, on some of its currency,and is used by many Australian organizations, including Qantas.
The word kangaroo derives from the Guugu Yimidhirr word gangurru, referring to a grey kangaroo. The name was first recorded as â€œKangooroo or Kanguruâ€ on 4 August 1770, by Lieutenant (later Captain) James Cook on the banks of the Endeavour River at the site of modern Cooktown, when HM Bark Endeavour was beached for almost seven weeks to repair damage sustained on the Great Barrier Reef.
A common legend about the kangarooâ€™s English name is that it came from the Aboriginal words for â€œI donâ€™t understand you.â€ According to this legend, Captain James Cook and naturalist Sir Joseph Banks were exploring Australia when they happened upon the animal. They asked a nearby local what the creatures were called.
The local responded â€œKangarooâ€, meaning â€œI donâ€™t understand youâ€, which Cook took to be the name of the creature. Kangaroo soon became adopted into standard English where it has come to mean any member of the family of kangaroos and wallabies.
Male kangaroos are called bucks, boomers, jacks, or old men; females are does, flyers, or jills, and the young ones are joeys. The collective noun for kangaroos is a mob, troop, or court. Kangaroos are sometimes colloquially referred to as roos.