What is the Australian teddy bear?

Practically everyone has owned a teddy bear as a child, but not everyone realizes that the animal it is modeled on it’s not a bear at all. Bears are placental mammals whereas the Koala, which is often called the Australian teddy bear, another marsupial mammal grouped with the phalange family. Let’s discover what is the Australian teddy bear.

What is the Australian teddy bear

It is interesting that a number of the marsupials restricted to the Australian region look and act like placental mammals found in other continents. The gliding phalanges are very much like the flying squirrel for example. Why is this?

About fifty million years ago Australia became cut off from the other continents as the mammals evolved.  This allowed the marsupials to adapt themselves to lie in every kind of habitat, free from competition from the more advanced placental mammals. In every other continent the placental flourished hand replaced the marsupials so that apart from Australia (and America where some opossums have somehow manage to survive), marsupials are found nowhere else in the world.

So in separate continents, representatives from two unrelated groups of mammals became adapted to live in all the available habitats. Where particular conditions were the same in either continent, the animals which evolved to suit them bear similarities in shape and behavior. This phenomenon is called parallel or convergent evolution.

What is the Australian teddy bear

What is the Australian teddy bear?

What is the Australian teddy bear

Two more Australian marsupials form the phalanger family: the monkey-like Spotted Cuscus (top) and the Brush-tailed Phalanger.

What does the Koala eat?

The Koala is a very specialized eater. It feeds only on the leaves of the eucalyptus tree. It will not eat any eucalyptus leaves, however, but only those that are young and tender, and even then it will eat only the very tips. Added to these preferences, some races or varieties of Koala will eat only the leaves from particular types of eucalyptus tree.

What is the Australian teddy bear

The young Koala stays with its mother for six months after leaving the pouch and often rides pick-a-back.

They fussy feeding habits of the Koala and its inability to adapt to alternative foods make the animal particularly vulner able. The felling of eucalyptus forests, forest fires and, in the past, the shooting of Koalas for their skins, has sadly reduced their numbers.

What is the Australian teddy bear

The tiny embryo kangaroo crawls up its mother’s fur to the safety of the pouch.

How is a baby kangaroo born?

Until about twenty years ago nobody was really sure how baby kangaroos were born. As in all marsupials, the kangaroo is born prematurely and completes its development within the pouch of its mother. What was not known, however, was how the tiny embryo managed to get into the pouch. Some people maintained the mother placed it there with her mouth, others denied this.

What is the Australian teddy bear

The baby kangaroo is suckled for eight months within the pouch. After leaving its mother it still frequently returns to her for milk for another six months.

We now know that before giving birth the mother squats down and licks her pouch and the fur down to her birth opening. The tiny inch-long embryo appears and crawls slowly up her wet fur towards the pouch. In three minutes it has climbed in and quickly closed its mouth over one of the nipples. The tip swells inside its mouth and holds it securely within the pouch while it is being suckled.

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