tagged w/ marsupials
Australia's marsupials originated in what is now South America, study says
The research in PLoS Biology suggests that Australian kangaroos, wallabies and more evolved from a common South American ancestor millions of years ago.
Ancient South American marsupials may have migrated across Antarctica to Australia more than 80 million years ago. (Rob Griffith, Associated Press / September 1, 2000)
By Jessie Schiewe, Los Angeles Times
July 28, 2010
The kangaroo, a beloved national symbol of Australia, may in fact be an ancient interloper.
A study published Tuesday in the online journal PLoS Biology suggests that Australian marsupials — kangaroos, wallabies, Tasmanian devils and more — evolved from a common South American marsupial ancestor millions of years ago. The finding, by researchers at the University of Munster in Germany, indicates that the theory that marsupials originated in Australia is incorrect.
Marsupials are characterized by distinctive frontal pouches in which they carry their young. There are seven existing orders, three from the Americas and four from Australia.
One prominent theory, now validated by the new study, suggested that ancient South American marsupials migrated across Antarctica to Australia more than 80 million years ago when the continents were connected in a supercontinent known as Gondwana. But scientists had also theorized that the first marsupials migrated from South America to Australia and then back again.
A third theory was that marsupials originated in Australia and then traveled to South America.
Up till now, it had been hard to verify any of the theories, said Matt Phillips, a biologist at the Australian National University in Canberra, who was not involved in the study.
"Ancient fossil records for marsupials are very poor, particularly in Australia," Phillips said. "This has made it hard to understand early migration patterns and relationships amongst the species."
Previous studies had tried to tackle the question by comparing small bits of DNA or physical differences between marsupials, such as ankle joint characteristics, Phillips said. The new study, in contrast, examines large chunks of marsupial genomes for evolutionary clues.
The team started by analyzing the genome sequences for the South American opossum and the Australian tammar wallaby. They specifically looked at DNA features called retroposons, types of "jumping genes" that pass virtually unchanged from mother to offspring. When two species share retroposons with very similar genetic sequences it is likely that they are derived from the same ancestor. The scientists found 53 similar retroposons in the opossum and wallaby, verifying their common ancestry.
The team then compared the wallaby and opossum data to the DNA of 20 other marsupial species, including the wallaroo, the common wombat, and the marsupial mole, to find out which marsupial lineages are more closely related and which split off first.
They found that all of the species had common retroposons, and thus a common ancestor. Closer analysis revealed that the South American opossum order, Didelphimorphia, was the oldest living marsupial order, indicating that all marsupials originated in South America.
"Scientists had always suspected there was a common ancestor between South American and Australasian marsupials but now we finally understand where they may have originated and how they branched off from one another," said study lead author Maria Nilsson, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Munster.
The study also cleared up years of confusion about where to group a marsupial called the monito del monte (mountain monkey). Although this creature is native to South America, it has more characteristics in common with Australian marsupials, and so scientists had debated its closest relatives for many years, Phillips said.
The DNA comparisons clearly showed that the mountain monkey belongs to the South American group on the marsupial evolutionary tree.Australia's marsupials originated in what is now South America, study says The... more
Lawnmowers must be loosing their sharp-edged touch, as Brits find Wallabies a better choice for keeping the lawn low.
The cute and exotic appearance of the Marsupial creatures, has caused an increase in request for the grass eaters.
If your looking to throw away the metal and invest in a Wallaby of your own, prepare to dish out as much as £150 for a male, or if your rolling in it, £650 for a female – not forgetting food and home costs.Lawnmowers must be loosing their sharp-edged touch, as Brits find Wallabies a better... more
Cuddly Australian icons such as kangaroos and koalas have been "devastated" by the bushfires that have razed swathes of native habitat and destroyed animal shelters, wildlife experts said Tuesday.
As the human toll climbed above 170, animal rescue workers said the cost to the region's unique wildlife may never be known.
"We're not seeing a lot of injured animals yet because the fires were so hot the animals were just killed on the spot," Wildlife Protection Association of Australia president Pat O'Brien told AFP.
"We do know that a lot of the wildlife carers in that area have lost their homes and facilities and in some cases they have lost their lives."
He said rare and endangered animals unique to the region northeast of the city of Melbourne, such as the ground-dwelling lyrebird, which is famous for its vocal mimicry, had little chance of escape from the flames.
"It's just absolutely horrific. A lot of the wildlife that is endemic to that area is endangered, like the lyrebirds. There's no way they could have escaped because the fires were just too fast," he said.
Fanned by strong winds and fed by a highly combustible fuel of tinder-dry ground litter and eucalyptus trees oozing flammable natural oils, the fires leapt gullies and creeks and climbed hillsides at terrifying speeds.
"The koalas in those trees will be dead. Normally they would climb higher to escape a fire but with this fire whole trees were going at once," O'Brien said.
Native animal care group Wildlife Victoria said on its website that at least two of its animal shelters had been destroyed in the fires which have burned out an area larger than Luxembourg since Saturday.
"Wildlife rescuers are preparing for one of the largest operations in our history once we can safely enter the fire grounds," it said.
The Royal Society for the Protection of Animals (RSPCA) said it was bracing for an influx of burnt and wounded animals.
RSPCA chief executive Maria Mercurio said that as the areas razed by bushfire open up, the full brunt of the impact on native animals will become clearer.
She said RSPCA shelters and inspectors have been working around the clock to be ready to provide emergency assistance.
"Some of our regional shelters have been assisting with emergency accommodation since Saturday," she said.
Many animals which managed to survive the fires have been without food or water since the weekend.
"Wombats would have survived the fire in their burrows but when they come out there'll be nothing to eat, so they'll just die a slow death," O'Brien said.
"It will be ages before we can get into some of these affected areas and by the time we do that any of the injured animals will be dead anyway."
Firefighters and survivors said the blaze moved with frightening speed and many of the victims were burned alive in their cars as they tried to flee.
"I don't think you can compare it to other fires. The sheer intensity and speed it travelled was amazing," volunteer firefighter Tim Bennett said.
Slideshow: http://admatch-syndication.mochila.com/viewer/channel/slideshow?buyerId=BLNZcom&channelId=13291&tid=10301&destination=219&buid=2342&rd=1&width=600&height=600&delay=8&&allowFullScreen=trueCuddly Australian icons such as kangaroos and koalas have been "devastated"... more
PHOTO: A koala nicknamed Bob puts his paw around fellow fire survivor Sam at the Southern Ash Wildlife Shelter in Rawson, Australia, on Wednesday.
SYDNEY - A bond between two burned koalas rescued from Australia's deadliest wildfires has provided some heart-warming relief after days of devastation and the loss of more than 180 lives and possibly millions of animals.
Colleen Wood, who runs the shelter, said Sam was introduced to Bob and that both koalas were doing well while other animals like opossums, kangaroos, and wallabies were also starting to emerge from the debris.
Animal shelters and clinics across the region have been inundated with hundreds of burned and blistered creatures who escaped the fires.
She said Sam had suffered second degree burns to her paws and would take seven to eight months to recover while Bob had three burned paws with third degree burns and should be well enough to return to the bush in about four months.
"They keep putting their arms around each other and giving each other hugs. They really have made friends and it is quite beautiful to see after all this. It's been horrific," said Wood.
Koalas are especially vulnerable to wildfires because they move slowly on the ground.
The wildfires cut through parks and forests and sent countless wombats and other native species fleeing. One expert estimated millions of animals perished in the inferno.
"It's just horrific," said Neil Morgan, president of the Statewide Wildlife Rescue Emergency Service in Victoria, the state where the raging fires were still burning. "It's disaster all around for humans and animals as well."
'A little bit of hope' -
Sam was rescued after accepting water from Tree, a volunteer fireman with the Country Fire Authority Victoria. Tree has visited Sam since her rescue and was delighted to see she had bonded with Bob.
"They've really taken a shine to each other as they are both burned and share the same burned smell," he said. "My heart goes out to the people in these fires and this was so innocent so people have used this to distract them from all the sad stuff that has gone on. It gives people a bit of hope."
Wood said the koalas would be released back into nature once a suitable habitat is found.
"The hardest part is going to be trying to find enough habitat to support these guys," Wood said.PHOTO: A koala nicknamed Bob puts his paw around fellow fire survivor Sam at the... more
Kangaroo attack caught on tape |
The RSPCA is searching for a group of young men who videoed a kangaroo being beaten.
The video shows a person kicking and punching the kangaroo which looks to be stunned.
The animal tires to defend itself but is eventually knocked out as the person filming the sickening attack laughs.
Native wildlife expert Steve McLeod believes the animal was injured prior to the attack.
“The kangaroo is very disoriented,” he said.
“It is very unusual for a kangaroo to fight like that as they invariably flee.
“I would hazard a guess that it has been knocked over by the car and injured.
“Certainly it has been stunned in some way.”
The RSPCA across Australia has joined forces to launch a nationwide appeal to catch the cowards who shot the appalling footage.
RSPCA Queensland spokesman Michael Beatty asked any body who knew those responsible to contact the organisation.
“Thankfully this sickening footage has now been removed from the website where it was first seen,” he said.
“The next stage is to ensure that those responsible for this film are brought to justice.”
In August, a koala was attacked and magpies were found nailed to a tree.
Queensland 1300 852 188
Western Australia (08) 9209 9300
New South Wales (02) 9770 7555
Australian Capital Territory (02) 6287 8100
South Australia (03) 8231 6931
Tasmania (03) 6332 8200
http://www.thedaily.com.au/news/2008/sep/11/sickening-kangaroo-attack-caught-tape/Kangaroo attack caught on tape | The RSPCA is searching for a group of young men... more
A koala has survived being struck by a car traveling at 60 mph. The marsupial is being called the luckiest koala in all of Australia, even though he has suffers from chlamydia.
Now I'm no logician, and a bit of an idiot, but does that mean if I get an STD, I can run into traffic, without fear of death?A koala has survived being struck by a car traveling at 60 mph. The marsupial is being... more
According to scientists, Kangaroo farts are fighting global warming.
Thanks to a special bacteria in their stomachs, kangaroos do not emit harmful methane gas when they let off a stinker.
Here are the facts:
A kangaroo is a marsupial
Tehre are some 63 living species of Kangaroo. Including the Red Kangaroo, the Antilopine Kangaroo, and the Eastern and Western Grey Kangaroo wallabies, tree-kangaroos, wallaroos, pademelons and the Quokka
Kangaroos are endemic to the continent of Australia, are found in Australia and New Guinea.
The kangaroo is an Australian icon: it is featured on the Australian coat of arms on some of its currency and is used by many Australian organisations,
Kangaroos live in groups called mobs.
Young kangaroos sometimes box playfully to pass the time. Adult males box to determine dominance, with the strongest male becoming the head of the mob.
They are not farmed to any extent, but wild kangaroos are shot for meat and fur,
While running at speeds of about 12 mph, these kangaroos are able to reach 35 mph in short bursts.
Kangaroos can be the size of a rat or as tall as a man.
Bucks (male kangaroos) "kickbox" in order to win mates. Two male rivals clasp arms and attempt to kick each other in the belly. They are able to stand on their tail while using both hind legs to kick
A female is called a doe, flyer, jill, or roo;
A male kangaroo is called a buck, boomer, jack, or old man
The western gray kangaroo Macropus fuliginosus buck has been nicknamed "the stinker" because it smells like curry!
Kangaroos cannot walk backwards!
A mother kangaroo can produce milk of two different types to feed two different babies (joeys) at the same time: a joey that has emerged from the pouch but is still nursing and a newborn!
Females have one baby at a time, which at birth is smaller than a cherry.
According to scientists, Kangaroo farts are fighting global warming. Thanks to a... more
This mammal is a marsupial,
When wombats fight each other, they generally try to bite each other on the bum.
Female wombats are bigger than male wombats
Wombats generally renovate old burrows, some of these burrows may have been dug 50, 100 or even 1,000 years ago.
Wombats fall asleep on their sides, but end up rolling over onto their back, with their four feet sticking up in the air.
A wombat may spend two-thirds of its life underground
When a wombat is born it is the size of a pea, and weighs only 1 gram.
A wombat can run at 40 kph, but only for up to 90 seconds
Wombats teeth have no roots and grow through its lifetime.
A wombat baby remains in its mother's pouch for about five months before emerging.
Some species (the northern hairy-nosed wombats) are now critically endangered, while others (the common or coarse-haired wombat) are still hunted as vermin.
The name wombat comes from the Eora Aboriginal community
Wombats are herbivores, their diet consisting mostly of grasses, sedges, herbs, bark and roots.
One defense of a wombat against a predator (such as a Dingo) underground is to crush it against the roof of the tunnel suffocating the predator.
Its primary defense is its toughened rear hide with most of the posterior made of cartilage.
Wombats are native only to Australia.
Wombats can live from about 5 years to over 30 years.
A wombat burrow can be as long as 20 metres.
Wombats Rock! This mammal is a marsupial, When wombats fight each other, they... more
A possum was found to be responsible for damage of priceless artifacts in an Australian museum of antiquity.
*Incidentally this is not a misspelling of Opossum, there is a difference.
Opossum - n. an American marsupial that has a ratlike prehensile tail and hind feet with an opposable thumb.
Possum - n.
1. tree-dwelling Australian marsupial that typically has a prehensile tail.
2. INFORMAL an opossum.
A possum was found to be responsible for damage of priceless artifacts in an... more