Australia, is known for its unusual wildlife. The exotic fauna of Australia also includes birds visitors from the rest of the world may not have seen. Even in central Sydney you may see and hear white ibises, sulphur-crested cockatoos and laughing kookaburras.
Most mammal species are placental. The only placentals in Australia before human history, were bats and rodents. Instead, the marsupials dominate the continent. Marsupials have a unique reproductive cycle, as the embryo leaves the mother's uterus, and crawls into the pouch to continue growth. While marsupials are also extant to the Americas, they are incredibly diverse in Australia, occupying ecological niches of placental mammals on other continents.
Australia is the only continent (and one of the only two countries - the other being New Guinea) in the world to still have all three of the major groups of mammals: monotremes, marsupials and placentals.
- Monotremes - egg-laying mammals (nowadays found only in Australia and New Guinea)
- Marsupials - babies born in embryonic condition and kept firmly attached to a teatin a pouch or nestled behind a protective skin-flap while developing further
- Placentals - unborn young are nourished by a placenta (just to confuse things, some marsupials also have a placenta) and born at a more advanced stage, some still naked, blind and unable to walk for a week or two, others able to run on their day of birth
Kangaroos are a non-biological category of marsupials; smaller kangaroos are called wallabies. The red kangaroo, Macropus rufus, is the largest marsupial, and an iconic species.
Western Ringtail Possum
The western ringtail possum or Ngwayir is a possum found in a small area of Western Australia. It is now listed as critically endangered.
Phascolarctos cinereus, is a tree-living bear-like marsupial. The closest living relatives of the koala are the wombats (turn a wombat 90 degrees, put it in a tree and give it fluffy ears and it would almost look like one). It is unusual for a tree-climbing animal to lack a tail, so it seems probable that the ancestors of both were ground-dwelling animals, and the koala secondarily moved back into the trees. In the geological past there were several species of koala, but there is now only one, although there are a few different races.
They have a very restrictive diet, eating only the leaves of Eucalyptus and Corymbia species (Corymbia are so similar to Eucalyptus that until recent years they were include in the same genus), and not just any species even of these. Eucalypt leaves are difficult to get all one's nourishment from - they have low levels of nitrogen, they have many indigestible chemicals, and only the young leaves are tender. There are only a couple of dozen species koalas regularly eat, and in any particular area within Australia there are usually less than half a dozen species the koalas will eat.
Wombats are short-legged, muscular quadrupedal marsupials that are native to Australia. They are about 1 m (40 in) in length with small, stubby tails. There are three extant species and they are all members of the familyVombatidae. They are adaptable and habitat tolerant, and are found in forested, mountainous, and heathland areas of south-eastern Australia, including Tasmania, as well as an isolated patch of about 300 ha (740 acres) in Epping Forest National Park in central Queensland.
(Ornithorhynchus anatinus), sometimes referred to as the duck-billed platypus, is a semiaquatic egg-laying mammal endemic to eastern Australia, including Tasmania. The body and the broad, flat tail of the platypus are covered with dense, brown fur that traps a layer of insulating air to keep the animal warm
Australian waters have a vivant population of whales.
The Great Barrier Reef is the world's largest coral reef.
Most of the world's cockatoos are native to Australia, and it has more parrots than any continent other than South America.
- it is probably the birthplace of the world's songbirds, and shares with New Zealand some songbirds with primitive characteristics
- lyrebirds, arguably the world's best mimics, occur only here
The emu, Dromaius novaehollandiae, is the world's second-largest bird behind the ostrich.
The Australian ringneck (Barnardius zonarius) is a parrot native to Australia. Except for extreme tropical and highland areas, the species has adapted to all conditions. Traditionally, two species were recognised in the genus Barnardius, the Port Lincoln parrot (Barnardius zonarius) and the mallee ringneck (Barnardius barnardi),but the two species readily interbred at the contact zone and are now considered one species.Currently, four subspecies are recognised, each with a distinct range.
In Western Australia, the ringneck competes for nesting space with the rainbow lorikeet, an introduced species. To protect the ringneck, culls of the lorikeet are sanctioned by authorities in this region. Overall, though, the ringneck is not a threatened species.
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