Saturday, January 31, 2009

Living Fossils Down Under

A trip down South-Western Australia's coast reveals some amazing flora, fauna that belonged to a bygone era.

This corner of Australia has a hugely varied landscape ranging from the cool and wet Albany coast in the South (left) to the dry, sun-baked bushlands of Nambung in the North (far left).

Separated from the rest of the world some 60 million years ago, the Australian native wildlife have links to fossils dating back to ancient times.
Look around for these interesting flora:

Banksias Banksia petiolaris is a typical Western Australian bush tree with easily recognisable flower cones.

Red kangaroo paws Anigozanthos rufus is one of the many varieties of kangaroo paw plants found only in Western Australia.

Rock Sheoaks Allocasuarina huegeliana are tough plants that lives in semi-arid habitat around Wave Rock, Hyden.

Boab trees Adansonia gregori is a kind of tree from the dry Kimberly region of North-Western Australia. Another similar species can be found in the same habitat in Madagascar, evidence of an ancient link between both lands across the Indian Ocean.

Another iconic tree, the Red Tingle Eucalyptus jacksoni from Walpole is the second tallest tree in the world after the Californian Redwoods.

The fauna here is equally special:

Red Kangaroo Macropus rufus is a well-recognised mascot of Australia.

Smaller than their kangaroo relatives, Bennet's Wallaby Macropus rufogriseus are equally charismatic mammals.

Smaller still, Quokkas Setonix brachyurus,which once covers a wide range across South-Western Australia before the introduction of foriegn predators , is now restricted to Rottness Island off Perth.

A wild encounter with an echidna Tachyglossus aculeatus, a lesser known egg-laying mammal which is also the platypus' relative.

(Next post: Fossils, Bones and Thrombolites!)