The Weird and Wonderful Animals of Australia Part 1
Some 30 million years ago, Australia had separated from Antarctica and took the journey north. Subsequent changes to climate and land formation, along with separation from the rest of the world, led to the unique fauna and flora seen ‘down under’ today. In fact, over 80 per cent of Australian mammals, reptiles, frogs, and plants are unique to the country and can’t be found in any other country. Some Australian animals, such as wombats, wallabies, and kangaroos, are well known, as are the echidna, platypus, and koala. However, there remain many animals that many of us are unaware of when it comes to those native to Australia. Here, we’ll take a look at some of the more wonderfully weird Australian animals.
Australian Southern Cassowary
The thought of a 60kg modern-day dinosaur might sound scary. That scare factor is even more justified when you factor in this animal’s ability to jump 1.5m off the ground. Cassowaries take advantage of their dagger-like toes by jumping feet first so they can slash their claws downward in mid-air in the direction of their prey. They’re also great at sprinting, with a 50 km/h top speed through dense forest, as well as swimming, with an ability to swim in the sea and cross wide rivers.
Once spotted throughout mainland Australia, the Tasmanian Devil is now only located in Tasmania. It has a significant role to play in Tasmania’s ecosystem by assisting in the control of introduced animals preying on native Australian wildlife. In fact, it’s the one animal native to Australia that has outwitted such introduced species as red foxes and feral cats. These devils make it difficult for foxes and feral cats to breed in Tasmania. This is especially good news for native animals, with improved odds of survival as a result. For example, fox dens are messy and smelly, which allows the devils to sniff them out.
Many Australians have heard the call of the Laughing Kookaburra, typically at dusk and dawn. The bird makes its call to establish the family unit’s territory and fire a warning to other kookaburras. The family may vocalise as a unit to make their territorial claim even stronger. Rival families within earshot may respond. Researchers have discovered that members from the same family can have a similar way of laughing. A kookaburra laughs socially, so it won’t laugh if alone in captivity.
This species is a unique one, with an appearance that combines a Glassing butterfly, a cicada, and a moth. Only a small species of Lepidoptera, which includes all moths and butterflies, have transparent, scaleless wings. Coloured wings can perform numerous functions, including waterproofing, feeding, thermoregulation, defence, and communication. The wings are transparent because it’s believed that they reflect around 50 per cent less light than opaque ones, which means that the wings are close to invisible when in flight. It works like an invisibility cloak, which means that it’s an effective means of defence against prey.