One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
A tree-dwelling marsupial with a rounded head and prehensile tail, native to New Guinea and northern Australia.
Four genera in the family Phalangeridae: several species, including the spotted cuscus (Spilocuscus maculatus) and the grey cuscus (Phalanger orientalis). See also phalanger
- ‘There is an utter lack of wildlife, save for the elusive cuscus, a beady-eyed marsupial the size of a house cat.’
- ‘At Kinnaird's research station, the cuscus was something of a star in her own right.’
- ‘Even a bear cuscus, a woolly marsupial found in Sulawesi's forests and normally a leaf-eater, won't turn down a succulent fig.’
- ‘When the cuscus was discovered, it was thought to be a monkey because of its prosimian-like movements; it grips branches with its partially hairless, prehensile tail as it travels slowly and deliberately through the rain-forest canopy.’
- ‘On Misima some young men felled a three-hundred-year-old tree in pursuit of a cuscus (a small marsupial) an act of destruction aimed more at dramatically displaying their mastery of their new machine than anything else.’
Mid 17th century: via French and Dutch from a local name in the Molucca Islands.
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