The land of marsupials. Just so you know, marsupials are beasts that once they birth a minuscule live baby usually only the one. The baby claws it's way round to a pouch, where thy generally have teats are etc. Then they develop there, have their milk theirs, and grow up a little there. And, just to amuse you, a baby echidna is called a 'puggle'. How cool is that?
An puggle vid from Taronga Zoo in Sydney from Youtube. Totally cute as a button, awesome!
Here's a bit of an explanatory article from Australia Life.
MarsupialsMarsupials evolved in North America, found their way to South America, and then into Australia via Antarctica when the southern continents were joined as Gondwana. In Australia they diversified to fill many niches. Most of the 140 species of marsupials in Australia are found nowhere else in the world; some of them are also found in New Guinea which was connected to Australia in more recent geological times.
A marsupium or pouch is one of the features that characterise marsupials although not all have a permanent pouch and a few have none at all.
Of course, Wikipedia, has plenty to say, and loads of pictures:
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The fauna of Australia consists of a huge variety of animals; some 83% of mammals, 89% of reptiles, 90% of fish and insects and 93% of amphibians that inhabit the continent are endemic to Australia. This high level of endemism can be attributed to the continent's long geographic isolation, tectonic stability, and the effects of an unusual pattern of climate change on the soil and flora over geological time. A unique feature of Australia's fauna is the relative scarcity of native placental mammals. Consequently the marsupials—a group of mammals that raise their young in a pouch, including the macropods, possums and dasyuromorphs—occupy many of the ecological niches placental animals occupy elsewhere in the world.
They are similar to mammals in being covered in fur and bearing live young which are suckled by the mother. In marsupials the gestation period is very short resulting in the birth of undeveloped young. Although blind, without fur, and with hindlimbs only partially formed these tiny newborns have well developed forelimbs with claws that enable them to make their way into the pouch and attach to a teat and continue their development.
The trade-off of the short pregnancy is the lengthy period of lactation during which the young remain in the pouch and the composition of the milk produced by the mother changes depending on the developmental stage of the young. Here is an overview of the diversity of marsupials that inhabit Australia.
This survey details the main groupings of marsupials based primarily on the taxonomic level of Family but in a couple of instances similar Families are combined. For each grouping, the features of the group are shown rather than detailed data on any one animal. There is also a list of all marsupials to help in locating a particular animal within its grouping.
Select one of the following for information on the Family/Families:
|Kangaroos & Relatives||Bandicoots & Bilbies|
|Possums & Gliders||Marsupial mole|
There's a great article from PLOS ONE, which details a more intensive, scientific/environmental approach here. For me, love the scientific stuff, it gives such a more detailed insight to the why's and wherefores which is one of the reasons I love getting lost in the bliss of Wikipedia (although I would have loved it to be Wikipaedia). Got to be in love with sites which also give you free distribution access as long as citations are given. Got remember, for the southern hemisphere, marsupials are a big thing and considered pretty special. The article below gives you a bit of a fell for their distribution with the problems of ecological loss of territory, aka logging and mining for countries like Brazil.