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Animals of Australia

Last week, we went to a zoo full of animals that are native to Australia. From kangaroos to platypus, we saw all sorts of incredible animals. If we had never seen or heard about them before yesterday, we might not have believed that they were real. Australia is a large island which separated from the rest of the world roughly 50 million years ago. This lead to adaptations found nowhere else in the world, creating some of the most bizarre animals alive.

We saw some of these animals at a zoo our first week in Melbourne. Of course, we saw many more both in captivity and the wild, but we had a few favorites that we want to tell you about.

Platypus

Among the most bizarre animals is the platypus. The venomous duck/beaver/otter combination, which is an egg laying mammal, is one of the five monotremes (egg laying mammals) in the world. The other four are different types of echidna which all live in New Zealand and Australia. The monotreme family is extremely weird. It is its own order which comes after Kingdom (animal), Phylum (chordata), and Class (mammal) and has only two species in it. The platypus is so odd that in the late 18th century when British scientists first saw one (shipped to them from Australia) they thought it was a joke, and that the Australians had sewn together different parts of animals to make it. If you look up a picture of them it does look like someone stuck a bill on a beaver and gave it otter feet. What's also surprising is that they seem a lot smaller in person: only about half a meter or one and a half feet. We do need to make sure that we don't accidentally endanger these animals by polluting their water ways. The zookeepers said the best way to help the platypus was to put your "rubbish in the bin".

Tasmanian Devil

Another amazing animal that we saw was the Tasmanian Devil. While its not the terrible tornado terror from the cartoons, it does have the bite to match its devilish bark. The Devil has the strongest bite of any animal its size. Weighing in at 20 pounds and with a bite force of 200psi (pounds per square inch) the devil has a 10:1 bite to weight ratio. Just to give you a better idea the male lion weighs in at around 400 pounds and has a 600psi bite force, giving it a 3:2 bite ratio. The salt water croc has the strongest bite force of any animal and weighs in at 2,200 pounds and has a 3,700psi bite force giving them the ratio of 37:22 which is about 2:1. That makes the Tasmanian Devil the King of Bite. Unfortunately, wild Devils are dying from a contagious facial disease that keeps them from being able to eat and eventually kills them. The good news is that they are releasing disease-free Tazies to a new island where they will hopefully be able to become successful and disease-free so that they can return one day to Tasmania.

(Photo from the San Diego Zoo website)

Write up by Jacob

Dingo

description/artwork by Luke

Kangaroo

description/artwork by Luke

Koala & Wombat

Koala and Wombat description/artwork by Juliette