Tag Archives: marsupialia

Koala: Phascolarctos cinereus

Phascolarctos cinereus: Koala” or “Koala Bear:”

Taxonomy: Animalia; Chordata; Mammalia; Marsupialia; Diprotodontia; Phascolarctidae; Phascolarctos cinereus

Common Names: Koala, koala bear, monkey bear, native bear, and tree bear.

Localities: Koala are found in the coast regions of eastern and southern Australia in the Eucalypt woodlands.

Description:
A arboreal herbivorous marsupial found in Australia that attracts many tourists annually Down Under for a chance to see this bear in the wild. They were named after the Dharuk gula which was changed to “koala”. Its genus is derived from the Greek word “phaskolos” meaning “pouch” and “arktos” meaning “bear”. Although referenced as a “bear”, the koala is not related to the bear. It was given this description because of its bear-like resemblances. Its closest family is the wombat and actually physically resembles them. The earliest fossils of Koala date from 20 million years ago. It is estimated that from 20 million to 50,000 years ago, giant koalas inhabited the rainforests. The origin of these creatures are unknown, though believed to have descended from terrestrial wombat like creatures. The Victorian koala have long, thick, dark grey fur with chocolate-brown highlights on its back and forearms with a prominently light-colored ventral side with fluffy white ear tufts. They have been known to weigh upwards of 26 lbs for males and 19 lbs for females. The Queensland koala though are smaller averaging at 14 lbs for the male and 11 lbs for a female with a lighter scruffy color and shorter thinner fur. There is a golden tinged koala, known as the “golden koala” that has a slight golden tinge to its fur. Some others may have white fur due to recessive genes. They have a slow metabolism and sleep mostly through the day. Koala have a thicker coat than the wombat, much larger ears, longer limbs, and large sharp claws for tree climbing. Their five fingers include two opposable thumbs giving them excellent gripping ability, and is one of the few mammals outside of primates to have unique fingerprints representing strong similarities to human fingerprints under a microscope. They have two sharp incisors they use to clip leaves at the front of their mouths, separated from the grinding cheek teeth by a wide diastema, owning a dental pattern of 3-2-2-4 on the top, and 1-0-1-4. The male has a bifucated penis and the female has two lateral vaginas and two seperate uteri. They walk on four legs while on the ground with their infants clinging to the back. The koala has a much smaller brain size than its earlier ancestors, most scientists believe this is due to the change towards a low energy diet. It is one of the only animals to have a strangely reduced cranial cavity. The Koala is very silent except for the male during mating season. If stressed, the koala will issue a loud cry similar in tone and intensity to that of a human baby. They have been known to live upwards of 18 years in age. Males mater by age 3 or 4, and Females at age 2 or 3. When birthing, females produce one young a year for upwards of 12 years in a row with a 35 day gestation period. Infants are called a joey, sized at about a 1/4 of an inch long, sleeps downward facing in the pouch, and are blind, earless, and hairless. They remain in the pouch upwards of 6 months at a time, feeding on the mother’s milk, during which time they will grow ears, eyes, and fur. When it begins to explore outside the pouch, it starts to consume the mother’s “pap” innoculating its gut with microbes required to digest eucalyptus leaves. The koala populations are diminishing so are a protected species. Some estimate between 80 and 100,000 left. The Australian government does not deem them to be a threatened species, but the US Government does.

Predators:
Loss of Habitat, Humans, impacts from urbanization, dog attacks, traffic accidents, chlamydia, and feral animals.

Diet:
Koala bears are herbivores and rely almost entirely on eucalyptus leaves. Three to Five of their waking hours is spent eating leaves, upwards of 18 ounces a day. Jaws turn the leaves into a fine paste which gets filtered by the liver to deactivate the toxins in the Eucalypts. In addition to eucalyptus, some other species such as Acacia, Melaleuca, and Leptospermum get ingested and differences of preference varies from region to region. The southern koala like the Manna gum, blue gum, and swamp gum best while northern koala prefer tallowwood and grey gum.

Uses:
Once hunted for its fur, it is now a protected species as it was almost hunted to extinction in the early 20th century.

Culinary:
Unknown.

Medicinal:
Unknown.

Folklore and Magical Uses:
Unknown.

Written and researched by Thomas Baurley, Leaf McGowan, Technogypsie Research Services. November 25, 2011.

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Kangaroo: Macropus sp.

Kangaroo

Taxonomy: Animalia; Chordata; Mammalia; Marsupialia; Diprotodontia; Macropodidae; Macropus; Macropus and Osphranter

Common Names: Kangaroo, gangurru, boomers, jacks, old men, bucks, does, flyers, jills, joeys, roos

Localities: Native to Australia. Some relatives in New Guinea.

Description:

One of the unique critters of Australia, A marsupial that is native to the Down Under and an infamous animal/symbol of Australia. Kangaroos belong to the Macropodidae family and consists of numerous species. The name comes from the Guugu Yimithirr word “gangurru” that is used by the Aboriginee for “Grey Kangaroos”. The term “kangaroo” was first used by Captain James Cook on the banks of the Endeavor River near “Cooktown” where the HM Bark Endeavor was beached on the Great Barrier Reef for seven weeks early August 1770. Some claim that Cook asked a aboriginee the name of this intriguing animals and the individual said “Kangaroo” which was interpreted through time to mean “I don’t understand you” but has since been proven to be a false myth according to linguist John Haviland in the 70’s. The males are called “boomers”, “jacks”, “old men”, and “bucks” while the females are called “does”, “flyers”, or “jills” and the infants are called “joeys”. When grouped together they are called a “mob”, “court”, or “troop” of kangaroo. They are often nicknamed “roos”. A mammal that is found throughout Australia it has a few related species that can be found in New Guinea as well, some of which are endangered. This amazing animal is important and endemic to Australia and its culture. They have been described by many Europeans as strange creatures that stand upright like humans, have a deer head without antlers, but hop around like frogs. They originally were seen as a myth until Australia became inhabited by Westerners who verified their existence. The first Kangaroo to be shot by a Westerner and exhibited to European culture was by one of Captain Cook’s officer’s by the name of John Gore in 1770. The Kangaroo’s iconography can be found on the currency, coat of Arms, emblems, and airlines. There are four main species: The Red Kangaroo (Macropus rufus) which is the largest existing marsupial in the world); The Eastern Gray Kangaroo (Macropus giganteus); The Western Gray Kangaroo (Macropus fuliginosus); and the Antilopine Kangaroo (Macropus antilopinus). The animla has large powerful hind legs adapted for leaping with a long tail for balance (only mammal known to use hopping for locomotion and clocked upwards of 20-25 to a max of 70 km/hour). The females of the species have a marsupial “marsupium” which is a pouch where the infants finish their post-natal development. Their average life span is 6 years in the wild and 20 years under captivity. They are an herbivore feasting primarily on grasses or shrubs yet unlike other herbivores do not release methane gas. Some smaller species feast on hypogeal fungi. A good percentage of them are nocturnal. They are known to have complex social structures and interactions with one another such as touching and sniffing one another. They usually mate in pairs. Female kangaroos are usually pregnant in permanence except the day of birth but can “freeze” the development of an embroyo until the current infant is ready to leave the pouch. The egg descends from the ovary to the uterus where it is fertilized and developes into a neonate that emerges within 33 days, with one young born at a time where it gestates in the pouch for upwards of 190-235 days until it can leave the pouch. Before copulation the male monitors the female, sniffs her urine, follows her every move, approaches her slowly and if not scaring the female will paw, lick, and scratch at her before engaging copulation. After a long intercourse and consort pairing that can take several days, the male moves on to another female. Male aggression between one another occurs frequently and usually results in “boxing” matches. These fights can be brief or long and ritualized usually involving fighting over a woman or a feeding/drinking spot. Sometimes punching, grabbing of the opponent’s neck, locking of forearms, and wrestling will take place until one of them breaks off and retreats from the fight. Their sharp hindlegs can dis-embowel an opponent. Oddly, after the fight, the males often scratch and groom one another. They are often shy and curious about humans. During a disease in 2004 that was similar to “rabies”, there were a few unprovoked attacks on humans by kangaroos. In 2003, an Eastern Grey kangaroo alerted a farmer’s family to his location after he was injured by a fallen tree branch. This Kangaroo received a National Animal Valor award in 2004 for this feat. Outside of humans and dingos, Kangaroos have few predators still alive. Sometimes foxes, dogs, and feral cats can threaten kangaroos. They were once hunted by the (now extinct) thylacine, marsupial lion, Megalania, and the Wonambi. Kangaroos are a menace to vehicles especially at night similiar to incidents in North America with “Deer” or “antelope”. They become dazzled by the headlights and car noises often causing them to leap out in front of the travelling vehicle causing a severe impact that can destroy small vehicles and damage sufficiently larger ones. Kangaroos that are hit along the roadside as “road kill” have their pouches checked for “joeys” and often a large spray-painted red “X” is put on the kangaroo to denote that the pouch has been checked.

Uses:
Kangaroo is used for hide, leather, fur, cooking, and meat. Kangaroos are not farmed for meat, but are hunted for meat, hides, sport, and to regulate grazing lands. The meat of the kangaroo has numerous health and environmental benefits over traditional meats and described as having a stronger wild meat flavor.

Culinary:
See our culinary and article about Kangaroo Meat here: http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=2218.

Medicinal:
The tender meat is very high in protein and low in fat (less than 2%), has a very high concentration of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) which is well known to be anti-carcinogenic and anti-diabetes, reduces obesity, and atherosclerosis.

Folklore and Magical Uses:
Traditionally it was used by the Aboriginees for meat, bone, and tendons. The scrotum was sometimes stuffed as a ball for the football game of “marngrook”.

Article/research by Thomas Baurley, Leaf McGowan, Technogypsie.com – August 2011.

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