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|Wildlife of Australia|
A total of 379 species of mammals have been recorded in Australia and surrounding continental waters: 357 indigenous and 22 introduced.The list includes 2 monotremes, 159 marsupials, 76 bats, 69 rodents (5 introduced), 10 pinnipeds, 5 terrestrial carnivorans (4 recent introductions, and 1 prehistoric introduction), 13 introduced ungulates, 2 introduced lagomorphs, 44 cetaceans and 1 sirenian. The taxonomy and nomenclature used here generally follows Van Dyck and Strahan.
Marsupials are any members of the mammalian infraclass Marsupialia. All extant marsupials are endemic to Australasia and the Americas. A distinctive characteristic common to most of these species is that the young are carried in a pouch. Well-known marsupials include kangaroos, wallabies, koalas, opossums, wombats, Tasmanian devils, and the extinct thylacine. Some lesser-known marsupials are the dunnarts, potoroos, and the cuscus.
The platypus, sometimes referred to as the duck-billed platypus, is a semiaquatic, egg-laying mammal endemic to eastern Australia, including Tasmania. The platypus is the sole living representative of its family (Ornithorhynchidae) and genus (Ornithorhynchus), though a number of related species appear in the fossil record.
The fauna of Australia consists of a huge variety of animals; some 83% of mammals, 89% of reptiles, 90% of fish and insects and 93% of amphibians that inhabit the continent are endemic to Australia. This high level of endemism can be attributed to the continent's long geographic isolation, tectonic stability, and the effects of an unusual pattern of climate change on the soil and flora over geological time. A unique feature of Australia's fauna is the relative scarcity of native placental mammals. Consequently, the marsupials – a group of mammals that raise their young in a pouch, including the macropods, possums and dasyuromorphs – occupy many of the ecological niches placental animals occupy elsewhere in the world. Australia is home to two of the five known extant species of monotremes and has numerous venomous species, which include the platypus, spiders, scorpions, octopus, jellyfish, molluscs, stonefish, and stingrays. Uniquely, Australia has more venomous than non-venomous species of snakes.
The Wallace Line or Wallace's Line is a faunal boundary line drawn in 1859 by the Welsh naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace and named by English biologist Thomas Henry Huxley that separates the biogeographical realms of Asia and Wallacea, a transitional zone between Asia and Australia. West of the line are found organisms related to Asiatic species; to the east, a mixture of species of Asian and Australian origin is present. Wallace noticed this clear division during his travels through the East Indies in the 19th century.
The tiger quoll, also known as the spotted-tail quoll, the spotted quoll, the spotted-tail dasyure, native cat or the tiger cat, is a carnivorous marsupial of the quoll genus Dasyurus native to Australia. With males and females weighing around 3.5 and 1.8 kg, respectively, it is the world's second largest extant carnivorous marsupial, behind the Tasmanian devil. Two subspecies are recognised; the nominate is found in wet forests of southeastern Australia and Tasmania, and a northern subspecies, D. m. gracilis, is found in a small area of northern Queensland and is endangered.
Quolls are carnivorous marsupials native to Australia and New Guinea. They are primarily nocturnal and spend most of the day in a den. Of the six species of quoll, four are found in Australia and two in New Guinea. Another two species are known from fossil remains in Pliocene and Pleistocene deposits in Queensland. Genetic evidence indicates that quolls evolved around 15 million years ago in the Miocene, and that the ancestors of the six species had all diverged by around four million years ago. The six species vary in weight and size, from 300 g (11 oz) to 7 kg (15 lb). They have brown or black fur and pink noses. They are largely solitary, but come together for a few social interactions such as mating which occurs during the winter season. A female gives birth to up to 18 pups, of which only six survive because she only has six teats with which to feed them.
The northern quoll, also known as the northern native cat, the North Australian native cat, the satanellus or njanmak in the Indigenous Mayali language, djabo in Kunwinjku, and wijingarri in Wunambal, is a carnivorous marsupial native to Australia.
Dibbler is the common name for Parantechinus apicalis, an endangered species of marsupial. It is an inhabitant of the southwest mainland of Western Australia and some offshore islands. It is a member of the order Dasyuromorphia, and the only member of the genus, Parantechinus. The dibbler is a small, nocturnal carnivore with speckled fur that is white around the eyes.
The kultarr is a small insectivorous nocturnal marsupial inhabiting the arid interior of Australia. Preferred habitat includes stony deserts, shrubland, woodland, grassland and open plains. The kultarr has a range of adaptations to help cope with Australia's harsh arid environment including torpor similar to hibernation that helps conserve energy. The species has declined across its former range since European settlement due to changes in land management practices and introduced predators.
The mammals of Australia have a rich fossil history, as well as a variety of extant mammalian species, dominated by the marsupials, but also including monotremes and placentals. The marsupials evolved to fill specific ecological niches, and in many cases they are physically similar to the placental mammals in Eurasia and North America that occupy similar niches, a phenomenon known as convergent evolution. For example, the top mammalian predators in Australia, the Tasmanian tiger and the marsupial lion, bore a striking resemblance to large canids such as the gray wolf and large cats respectively; gliding possums and flying squirrels have similar adaptations enabling their arboreal lifestyle; and the numbat and anteaters are both digging insectivores. Most of Australia's mammals are herbivores or omnivores.
The natural history of Australia has been shaped by the geological evolution of the Australian continent from Gondwana and the changes in global climate over geological time. The building of the Australian continent and its association with other land masses, as well as climate changes over geological time, have created the unique flora and fauna present in Australia today.
The fauna of New Guinea comprises a large number of species of mammals, reptiles, birds, fish, invertebrates and amphibians.
The narrow-nosed planigale is a species of very small marsupial carnivore of the family Dasyuridae.
The crest-tailed mulgara, is a small to medium-sized Australian carnivorous marsupial and a member of the family Dasyuridae which includes quolls, dunnarts, the numbat, Tasmanian devil and extinct thylacine. The crest-tailed mulgara is among a group of native predatory mammals or mesopredators endemic to arid Australia.
Tingamarra is an extinct genus of mammals from Australia. Its age, lifestyle, and relationships remain controversial.
Monotremes are one of the three main groups of living mammals, along with placentals (Eutheria) and marsupials (Metatheria). The monotremes are typified by structural differences in their brains, jaws, digestive tract, reproductive tract, and other body parts compared to the more common mammalian types. In addition, they lay eggs rather than bearing live young, but, like all mammals, the female monotremes nurse their young with milk.