Australia is a land like no other, with about one million different native species. More than 80 per cent of the country’s flowering plants, mammals, reptiles and frogs are unique to Australia, along with most of its freshwater fish and almost half of its birds.
Australia’s marine environment is home to 4000 fish species, 1700 coral species, 50 types of marine mammal and a wide range of seabirds. Most marine species found in southern Australian waters occur nowhere else.
Australia’s geographic isolation has meant that much of its flora and fauna is very different from species in other parts of the world. Most are found nowhere else. However, some closely related species are found on the continents which once made up the ancient southern supercontinent Gondwana.
Covered in rainforest and ferns 300 million years ago, Gondwana included South America, Africa, India and Antarctica. Most of Australia’s flora and fauna have their origins in Gondwana, which broke up about 140 million years ago.
Australia separated from Antarctica 50 million years ago. As it drifted away from the southern polar region, its climate became warmer and drier and new species of plants and animals evolved and came to dominate the landscape
Activity: In groups of 2-3 research a unique fauna (animals) and flora (plants) of Australia. Choose from the list below or choose an alternative (check this with Ms. Humphries). By the end of the lesson, you should have prepared a 30second to 1 minute mini-presentation that you will give next lesson. The presentation should cover:
1. What is the fauna/flora you will present on.
2. Where in Australia is this fauna/flora found? Why is it found in this location?
3. How is this fauna/flora unique?
- River red gum trees
- Ghost gum trees
- Kangaroo Paw
- Sturts Desert Pea
- Sturts desert Rose
- Tasmanian Devils
- Honeyeater birtds