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A kangaroo is a marsupial from the family Macropodidae (macropods, meaning 'large foot'). 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, sport, and to protect grazing land for sheep and cattle. Although there is some controversy, harvesting kangaroos for meat has many environmental and health benefits over sheep or cows grazed for meat.
The kangaroo is a national symbol of Australia: its emblem is used on the Australian coat of arms, on some of its currency, as well as by some of Australia's best known organisations, including Qantas. The kangaroo is important to both Australian culture and the national image and consequently there are numerous popular culture references.
The word kangaroo derives from the Guugu Yimidhirr word gangurru, referring to a grey kangaroo.The name was first recorded as "Kangooroo or Kanguru" 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.Guugu Yimidhirr is the language of the people of the area.
A common myth about the kangaroo's English name is that 'kagaroo' was a Guugu Yimidhirr phrase for "I don't understand you." According to this legend, Captain James Cook and naturalist Sir Joseph Banks were exploring the area when they happened upon the animal. They asked a nearby local what the creatures were called. The local responded "Kangaroo", meaning "I don't understand you", which Cook took to be the name of the creature. The Kangaroo myth was debunked in the 1970s by linguist John B. Haviland in his research with the Guugu Yimidhirr people.
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 often colloquially referred to as roos.