Ever needed to hear about mad dad birds with enormous feet? Try THESE on for size:
What’s that you say? These are clearly the feet of a dinosaur, not a bird? WHY NOT BOTH?
This is Australia’s very own dinosaur, the second-largest bird in the world, the emu. Say hi!
They roam around Australia making ‘wonk-wonk’ noises under their breath and glaring at everything. And the dads take care of the babies! They sit on the eggs…
They look after the tiny stripey adorable things….
They look after the less tiny less adorable things…
And they even look after the great big menacing things that are almost as big as they are.
But here’s the catch. All emus look pretty much alike. Especially when you are a tiny stripey adorable thing. All you can see of your dad is is great big dinosaur feet (see picture #1). So there is one very unrealistic thing about all the adorable terrifying dinosaur family photos above:
I have never seen an emu family in the wild where all the babies are the same size.
Here is the reason!
Emu dad and his emu babies are roaming about wonking and glaring at everyone. Suddenly emu dad sees another emu dad! A threat!
Emu dads do some display threats with dancing and bouncing and fluffing and… look, it’s very serious business, okay?
If this does not work to see off one emu they might progress to actual fighting.
Oops, sorry, you wanted the dignified version. Here, have some ART:
Either way, this encounter will end up with one or both adult emus zooming away as fast as he can run. This is very fast.
This is the other thing they do besides wonking and glaring, by the way. They run. Fear the running emu.
Anyway, this leaves all the tiny and medium-sized and semi-large stripey things milling around making confused tiny “cheep? wonk?” noises and basically just following whichever pair of large feet they can find.
And so mostly when you see a male emu with a gaggle of youngsters at heel, they are all different sizes. Who knows whose they are? Not him! But he’s going to look after them anyway.
The platypus was officlally classified as a mammal when it was discovered that it has mammary glands and it suckles its young. However, much like the echidna, the platypus does not have nipples. Instead, the milk flows from pores into grooves in the female’s abdomen, where the young can lap it up.
Another oddity about young platypodes is that they are born with teeth. Aside from the egg tooth, used to help the hatchlings pierce the shell of their eggs, the baby platypus has three teeth in each of its upper jaws, a premolar and two molars. It is unknown why these teeth are present, as they drop out before the babies leave the breeding burrow and never grow back; the adult platypus has horny plates in its mouth to grind food, and also swallows gravel to aid with digestion.
The kakapo, though rare now, was once deeply valued as a pet. The Maori people treasured the kakapo not only as a source of meat and feathers, but also as a companion. Once governor of New Zeland, George Edward Grey, had a kakapo as a pet, and he stated that the bird’s behaviour was closer to that of dog than to that of a bird.
The numbat is the most evolutionarily distinct marsupial in the world, having no real living relatives. In fact, its closest relation is the now-extinct Thylacine, or Tasmanian tiger. It is one of only two marsupials that is diurnal, has no pouch, and is the only marsupial and feeds exclusively on social insects. Once widespread throughout Australia, it is now extinct in 99% of its former range.
The tongue of the short-beaked echidna is quite a remarkable organ. This tongue can be stiffened through rapid blood flow, and is strong enough to penetrate dense soil, or even rotting wood. A sticky mucous turns the tongue’s surface into a kind of natural flypaper, trapping insects which are then drawn back into the echidna’s mouth and ground against backwards-pointing keratinous “teeth”. The echidna’s tongue also moves at great speed, able to move in and out of the snout over 100 times per minute, and is flexible enough to go around U-shaped bends and twisting tunnels in the ant/termite nest. Finally, though the tongue can penetrate wood, it seems remarkably resistant to getting splinters, though no one is quite sure why.