You've probably seen pictures of the kangaroo
, the platypus
and maybe even the bunyip
. Maybe they scared you. Maybe they gave you nightmares
. Maybe you don't consider them that unusual, but then maybe you're into bestiality
. The question is, how could one little island
produce such a strange array of animals
The answer, my friend, is all a matter of evolution.
Remember way back, say 250 million years ago, when this whole planet was covered in that huge landmass called Pangaea? Continental drift resulted in little Pangaea being broken into Laurasia and Gondwanaland, and from there Gondwanaland broke up into the continents we now know as Africa, Antarctica, South America, Australia and the sub-continent India.
Since Australia was seperated from the other continents by oceans and seas, land animals couldn't travel overseas and mingle. Plant and animal species were cut off from the rest of the world and everything evolved seperately. The fact that Australia is such a dry continent meant that animals needed to adapt to harsh outback conditions. A lot of marsupials appeared and a fair bit of reptiles, too. Today, 95% of mammals in Australia, 88% of reptiles and 94% of our birds are not native to any other place in the world.
Ah, but that emu of yours is a cheap Oceanic imitation of Africa's ostrich. And the echidna? Hedgehogs and porcupines are by far more superior! Dammit, I'd like to see a hedgehog or porcupine lay an egg! That's right! AN EGG! Who needs the Easter Bunny when Australia is home to the only two mammals in the world that can lay eggs! The second mammal able perform this amazing feat is, of course, the platypus.
Not all Australian animals are weird! What about that dingo! Its a dog! Oh, indeed it is. But when the aborigines migrated to Australia some 40,000 years ago (they could do this because sea levels were low, thanks to an ice age) they brought the dingo with them. Yup, the dingo is an Asian wild dog, an introduced species to Australia.There are quite a few introduced species in Australia that make our world a little more like yours. Alot of them are ugly, like the cane toad. Some of them, like the rabbit, are such bloody pests that they tried taking out some of the native fauna. Feral cats and dogs are also a pretty big problem in Australia, they piss off our koalas and eat bandicoots.
Are you sure you Australians aren't making these animals up? Gee, no one even knows what a bunyip looks like! No one knows what a bunyip looks like because the only people who've seen them were blind drunk. Or so we're told. Seriously, nobody accuses the Americans of making native animals up because they say they have Bigfoot. Every continent needs their own mythical beast. Why should we be left out?
Sure, Australian native animals look a little strange, smell a little odd and may behave in a freakish manner. If you believe in the Crocodile Hunter, we wouldn't have 'em any other way.
Rougevert informs me that the dingos were actually brought to Australia 8000 years ago. Thanks buddy!
Some facts taken from http://www.ozramp.net.au/~senani/animaust.htm