Known for its extensive wildlife diversity, Australia boasts of these beautiful and rich diverse inhabitants. You can yourself assume by the fact that Australia’s wildlife is worth $1 billion to its tourism industry. And among this, Australian marsupials are very popular among the citizens and tourists as well. Marsupials are the class of mammals where the females have a pouch (marsupial) containing the teats where the young ones are fed and carried. And these creatures are also associated with some amazing and interesting facts.
So, here we present you a list of 10 Awesome Facts about Australia’s Marsupials.
10. Evolution of Marsupials
What if we tell you that Australian marsupials first evolved in South America? Now, you must me thinking, then why we term as Australian Marsupials? The reason behind this concept is that they first evolved in South America about 100 million years ago. And at that time, Australia, South America and Antarctica were connected together in one big continent. Gradually, Australia and Antarctica moved away and became isolated continents. Now, these mammals were free to evolve and this evolution produced the characteristics found in present-day Australian marsupials.
9. History behind Kangaroos
The name kangaroo did not come up instantly. There is a complete story behind this. This name came from the Aborigines through a mistake. An earlier European explorer asked an Aborigine what these strange hopping animals were, and the Aborigines replied kangaroo, meaning “I don’t know”. But the explorer thought that it was the name of animal. Hence, this way the animal named as ‘kangaroo’ forever.
8. Chlamydia is Killing Koalas
Loss of habitats, dog attacks, hit by cars etc. are the several reasons which are associated with the dip in the koala population. But one of the biggest reasons for all this misfortune is the serious outbreak of Chlamydia. It has caused blindness, fatigue and infertility as well and coming out as a serious disease. Several remedies are being developed but this has not helped in an effective way. It seems that they are prone to Chlamydia.
7. Hammer Toothed Snail Eater
In Queensland, Australia, scientists discovered a fossil of marsupial around the size of a ferret. It had a large, blunt tooth on each side of its upper jaw, shaped like the head of hammer. The teeth resembled those in an Australian lizard, the pink-tongued skin. It used these teeth to crush the snail shells. But the present successors are no more related to the lizards.
6. A Mouse is Mother of all Marsupials
What would be your reaction, if we say that a mouse is the mother of all marsupials of Australia – kangaroos, koalas and wombats? Yes, it is true. As earlier mentioned all the species came from South America, one species made its way to Australia around 55 million years old and became the mother of all Australian marsupials. This creature is an animal similar to mouse, known as Djarthia.
5. Unique Way of Telling about the Gender
Most of Australian marsupials are the night creature. They are highly active during the night so their most important senses are their sense of smelling and hearing which are more sensitive and active than their eyes. They also have extra scant glands which tell their neighbors whether they are male or female. And this gland not only helps in telling the gender difference but it also indicates if they are stranger to the group or they are feeling frightened or angry.
4. The Struggling Motorcycle Sound
Koalas are popularly known for their cuteness. But the male koalas produce a grunt that sounds very much like an old motorcycle struggling to start. It was assumed to scare off the other male koalas but in later studies, it was found that the prime purpose was to attract the females rather than warding off the competitors. One more interesting fact you would like to know is that these grunts were used in the movie, Jurassic Park.
3. Wombat Poo: Sign of Their Territory
You all must be familiar with the way animals mark their territory with peeing to leave a scent but one type of marsupials known as wombats use the other way around. They use number two i.e. the poop to mark the sign of their territory. And to get around with the chances of their discrete getting rolled away, they release their scat in small cubes. The poop comes out with a sticky mucus coating and a smell described as ‘sweet’ and ‘peaty’. Moreover, some Australian souvenir companies are selling paper made from wombat droppings. The wombat paper is the most popular among Australians.
2. Breathing through Skin
In most of mammals’ case, a baby first develops the major internal organ system and then the limbs follow. But marsupials have developed a different way where the limbs are developed first and then other internal part. This is necessary so the newborns can crawl into the mother’s pouch when it is born too early. In this line, babies of Julia Creek Dunnart, a marsupial mouse, are delivered only after 12 days of gestation. This results in underdeveloped lungs, so they take in all of their oxygen directly through the skin. The lungs take over gradually.
1. Child Swapping
Whenever you see a mother kangaroo with the baby kangaroo (Joey) in her pouch, you assume that the baby belongs only to her. But this may not be the case always. Some biologists at Wilsons Promontory National Park observed a very astonishing incident where two other kangaroos were seen exchanging the baby kangaroo with each other. They witnessed a mother kangaroo taking in another female’s offspring whereas second mother simply went along with it and took the spare joey. Several theories and explanations were put up for this behavior but the actual reason is still a mystery to all.