"Garret of the world" and its inhabitants

 

Tour to Neocene

 

6. "Garret of the world" and its inhabitants

 

 

 

Australia, the island continent separating Indian and Pacific oceans, in Neocene has considerably moved to the north, going to a zone of an equatorial climate. In connection with climate warming and expansion of a tropical zone of the Earth the south of Australia and Tasmania where snow dropped out in mountains in winter, are now in the climatic zone similar to the modern Mediterranean one.
The north Australia is occupied now by damp tropical woods, and in the central part of continent dry light forests and savannas dominate. The desert has remained only on a south-west of continent, occupying the small areas. The area of salty Australian lakes on a south-east of continent (lake Eyre, Frome, Torrens and others) has turned to an ocean gulf which coasts are rich life.
The fauna of Australia has undergone significant changes and in a Neocene more reminds the world of prehistoric South America: a role of herbivores here play placental mammals, and marsupials are submitted by mainly predatory and omnivorous forms though there are also herbivores. The human has substantially affected fauna of Australia, when he has delivered on this continent of predators (foxes, dogs and cats), rodents, rabbits and camels. But the fortune at these species was various: placental carnivores had become extinct because of an epizooty of a rabies and a plague of carnivors, rodents steel not the most significant part of fauna of continent after disappearance of the human (their main patron), rabbits also became favourite prey for small and middle-sized predators of continent. And camels have taken a place of herbivores like the kangaroo though alongside with them there are also local marsupial herbivores. Climbing animals (both predators and herbivores) are extremely marsupials, as well as all large carnivorous mammals.
On border of a savanna and dry woods in the south of Australia it is possible to meet both species of wood habitats, and inhabitants of a savanna. The high grass covers heights, and in river valleys groves of trees grow. Closer to a gulf of Eyre separate large forests incorporate in the uniform extended dry wood including leaf-falling and evergreen species of trees, mainly gums and acacias.
In a grass under large bushes of graminoids holes are visible, and anywhere it is possible to notice rabbits - owners of these holes. They are quite recognized, as if also has not passed 25 million years from time when thousands of these small mammals became national disaster for people lived in these lands. But now such abundance of these small mammals you will not meet. Group of lagomorphs is rather conservative group of animals and though in Old World they have achieved the big evolutionary success, in Australia other animals have taken away chance from them, having left by them the wretched destiny to be hidden in holes and to live in fear. And one of originators of it goes on hunting.
In a grass the short-legged long-bodied predator flashes – it is the marsupial hermin. Colouring allows an animal to mask in a grass excellently. And its nervous fussy movements more remind movements of the lizard, than a mammal. Having snuffed, the marsupial hermin runs in one of holes, whence in any seconds plaintive shout of the rabbit reaches. From the next holes jump out and inhabitants of holes who today managed to survive escape.
The marsupial hermin appears from a hole, holding the young rabbit in teeth. This animal has perfectly adapted to hunting on placental mammal introduced for a long time ago by people which have become extinct. Its far ancestor is the marsupial mouse, it successfully traded in hunting for usual mice introduced by people to Australia, and later its descendants began to compete successfully to placental predators. After extinction of placental carnivores because of epizooties marsupials have received free space for evolution.
Teeth of the marsupial hermin easily break off a stomach of the rabbit, and the predator enjoys fresh food. But to it will come to interrupt the feast: voices of other animals are audible in the distance. The predator selects to keep prey and carries it off in a grass.
Voices come nearer, and a bit later near to this place from a grass other inhabitants of Australia are shown one by one: they are marsupial lemurs. Motley animals walk on four paws, having pulled up upwards long tails. On backs of some females the grown up cubs sit, having grasped a tail for a tail of mother.
Marsupial lemurs live on trees, and this transition on a grass for them is compelled. The group searches for new places of an inhabiting as in their old wood shortage is felt peep. Grasses are not the best place for wood animals, therefore all animals on the alert. Coming to up to a place on which there was a blood of the rabbit killed by the marsupial hermin, the leader of group, the large brown and white male stops, utters a disturbing signal and sniffs at a grass and the ground. Having heard an abrupt sound, other cuscuses instantly lower tails. Then the leader rises on hinder legs and looks over vicinities. Having noticed the marsupial hermin chewing the rests of the rabbit, he calms down: the predator is too small for the adult marsupial lemur and besides it is occupied with feeding. The group continues movement, and soon reaches an area of the wood growing in a flood-land of the small river. Here there are bushes, trees with edible leaves, set of insects and the bird nests - everything, that it is necessary for life of cuscuses.
The competition to the placental species had appeared in Australia due to people, has changed marsupials. Species managed to survive, for millions years have evolved from clumsy plush clodhoppers or rather stupid killing machines to very sharp, dexterous and mobile creatures. The marsupial lemur is one of such species. It became more similar to any small monkey: it lives by close groups, dexterously skips on trees, masters new kinds of a forage, easily remembers district and sources of food, has excellent movement coordination.
The group of marsupial lemurs searches among branches for edible live beings, attentively looking over leaves and flowers. The fat bug, a caterpillar or a cockroach are fine dainties. Having found the large insect, the cuscus eats it, holding in a paw, as if cookies. The cub sitting on a back of mother, is interested in that mommy eats, and from time to time carries off a tasty slice from her paws. Some kids climb down from a back of mother and try to catch insects, imitating movements of adults. The big eyes and three-dimensional sight help to find an agile cockroach among foliage and exact movement of a paw to catch it.
One more wood dainty is a nectar of flowers. Having found a flower near which especially many insects hover, the cuscus accurately inclines a flower to itself and licks its middle.
Taken wing bird can show, where it is its nest with eggs or nestlings - too pleasant dainties.
But there are animals, for which other animals are dainties. And now pair of eyes observes of marsupial lemurs. The grey body with black strips quietly goes in foliage, sharp-clawed paws softly go on a branch, and on bared canines the thread of a saliva flows down. The most furious predator of Neocaenic Australia has going to the hunting track. It is the marsupial panther, similar to a lion by ferocity and might, but surpassing the leopard by dexterity.
Nothing suspecting marsupial lemurs are engaged in search of food as suddenly in a wood bird's shrill shout is heared: any small bird has given out presence of a predator. Marsupial lemurs become intently transfixed, and at the same time, breaking branches, the huge striped predator rushes on them. With shrill shouts the group of cuscuses rushes on branches, and behind them the hungry marsupial panther pursues. It needs to catch though one cuscus: she is hungry, and in its marsupium pair of cubs sits which need milk. At the next jump of mother one cub of the marsupial lemur takes off from a bag and hangs in a forked branch. For one second the female of marsupial panther stops: she instantly eats the small cuscus, but it can not satisfy her hunger, and chase proceeds, though the predatoress does not run any more, and jumps from a branch on a branch by fast steps.
The male the cuscus tries to allocate the predatoress: he lags behind flight, switching attention of the marsupial panther. Thus the male utters loud cries and skips on branches zigzags, observing by tail of eye for reaction of the marsupial panther. The group goes to rich leafage, and the male recedes on thin branches. It is his cunning: by a tip of a prehensile tail he imperceptibly keeps for the next branch. The striped huntress rises closely. The male loudly barks at her, receding farther and farther. The branch under paws of the marsupial panther starts to wave threateningly, and the predatoress does not dare to walk further. And then the cuscus provokes her: he rises to her on a step. The marsupial panther makes a fatal mistake: she tries to strike the cuscus by a paw. The spotty animal evades from a crushing blow of claws literally at last moment, but the marsupial panther is dumped breaking branches on bottom bough. The marsupial lemur hangs on a tail: the insurance has worked. Having shaken, he jumps to other branch and disappears in foliage.
The female of marsupial panther was not hurt itself: she has fallen by forepaws on a thick branch which had stopped her falling. Hunting for cuscuses was an appreciable error: these animals are too fast for her, and the had eaten cub of the cuscus only has excited appetite though it has appeased a colic in a stomach. And the striped predatoress chooses a place for a new ambush: on branches of a tree above a track to a watering place.
The fauna of herbivores of Australia has undergone essential changes when the man has introduced placental mammals to this continent. For millions of years not all species have got adapted successfully, some species had become extinct together with people, but someone species has remained in Neocene. Among the species who have survived during cataclysms of the end of a Holocene, there were dromedaries. Become wild and free, they have easily gone through ecological crisis of a late Holocene and in a Neocene gave many species adapted to the most different conditions of a habitat. Mountain, wood and even marsh camels have appeared. But nevertheless in savannas of Australia these animals are most numerous. Both herds of small graceful leptocameluses or camelopes, and small family groups of huge giraffamels or dolichocameluses live there. There were also marsupials herbivores - huge longteeth wombats growing in the size bigger, than a cow. These solitary marsupials are covered with a thick skin which even the hungriest marsupial panther is not capable to bite through with one bite. All these herbivores eat different food: camelopes eat tops of grasses, wombats eat roots and tubers, adding to ration juicy coastal vegetation which camelopes do not eat. And giraffamels look down on their food predilections: they are fed at height 4 - 4,5 meters with branches of trees. Long blue-violet tongue is extended still almost on half-meter and operates in a crone of a tree as a hand, breaking soft leaves and putting them in a mouth. The wedge-shaped head allows to squeeze into the thicket of branches, and widely put eyes give almost circular review from height of the camel growth.
The herd of giraffamels slowly eats around thin trees, passing on the Australian savanna. These giants have almost nobody to be afraid, therefore they afford idleness: the young camel colt makes advances to adults, and one almost sexual matured female accepts his offer to play. Animals competing in speed skip on a savanna wide gallop, having pulled up tails. From under their legs the marsupial hermin jumps out: his hunting is hopelessly broken.
At this time the head of family, the large male in height more than 4 meters, eats leaves of a tree near to the river. Having pulled for especially juicy leaves growing directly above his head, the animal lifts up a head and unexpectedly notices by one eye, that from the next branch almost in an emphasis on him, the female of the marsupial panther ready to jump looks at his head. Loudly having begun to roar, the huge giraffamel jumps aside from a tree and runs off an amble on an open place. After him his females and colts run. The played couple of camel colts very much hastens to parents. The male inflates nostrils and beats forward legs by the ground. On open space he is invincible: the ground enemy will recede under impacts of his legs. And among trees where there is no space for maneuver, he does not like to remain at the presence of a large predator.
The ambush of the marsupial panther is found out, and among animals there was alarm absolutely not necessary to her. The predatoress jumps off on the ground and leaves this grove. But on a track conducting to a watering place, she unexpectedly faces hardly probable not face to face with the male of the longteeth wombat. Both these animals wish this meeting less all: to the marsupial panther it is impossible to overcome densely combined giant, and to him it is completely uninteresting to conflict with a mighty predator. Both animals show each other the better qualities, hoping, that the opponent will recede. The wombat opens a mouth wide, showing tusks, digs them the ground and stamps forward legs. The marsupial panther female, understanding that she can not resist to a brute might, deafeningly squeals and opens wide a mouth in which powerful long canines are visible. Thus the panther recedes, and then she is sharply turns and rushes away. Another time she could rush to armored giant and simply skip over him, but now in her marsupium there are cubs, and mother can not risk their lives.
Night in a savanna passes to a crash of crickets and cicadas. Marsupial lemurs sleep at top of a tree in a congestion of rich branches – this way the owl or another night hunter will not seize them. Giraffamels doze superficial dream, standing at an open place away from trees. From time to time one or another animal lowers a head on a back and spends some minutes in very deep dream. And only the marsupial panther in the lair among bushes restlessly turns in dream. The tiny cuscus, nestlings from two bird nests and some beetles, one of which appeared terribly bitter – it is not the best dinner for the big predator.
Morning finds the marsupial panther on the same tree above a track to a watering place. She hunts other inhabitants of a savanna - small camelopes. The big herd of these graceful animals with strange white crests on heads slowly walks to a watering place. On road some camelopes break stalks of grass. On a track the column of these animals goes: the marsupial panther has rich choice of prey. And it has fallen on the large elderly male. He sedately walks away from the general herd of camelopes, searching especially tasty grasses. And one stem seen by him under a tree began the last, that this camelope saw in life.
As if the grey lightning, the huge marsupial panther darts off from a tree and has fallen by all power upon the sluggish camelope. Huge canines have got to the core of his cervical vertebrae, and sharp-clawed paws have tore off its stomach. The skilled animal more than once overtaking and leaving behind of predators on plain, has died almost immediately.
The herd of camelopes runs away in sides: the fear has overcome thirst. And the marsupial panther has dragged prey on a tree - determination to reserve catch has given a might to her. And only among branches the predatoress has begun to eat meat greedy. Her long canines completely do not allow to gnaw round a bone, and nevertheless there is a little meat to a share of small predators. It is known perfectly by the marsupial hermin. Some graceful short-legged animals have already climbed on a tree and expects the ending of the marsupial panther’s feast.
Having filled a stomach by meat and plucks to satiety, the panther rushed into weariness. Some hungry days, failure, meetings with strong opponents have exhausted her up to a limit, and the predatoress has failed in a deep precipice of dream. The last, that she has seen eyes hardly keeping opened for weariness, there were some yellow small mammals with a strip on a back which have rushed to tear the rests of a carcass hanging among branches. A tired predator is the bad hunter, and the marsupial panther has left pieces of meat to small parasites in the name of the future successful hunting.
Three months later the dry season was replaced by rain season, and at the marsupial panther cubs have left mother’s marsupium and already become more independent. They are two males: their heads are more dark, than at females. They do not suck milk any more, but eat fresh catch and try to hunt. Sometimes small birds and lizards, or young rabbits become their catch. It, certainly, exempts their mother from necessity to hunt so much, but all the same it is necessary: cubs should grow quickly, and they yet will not support themselves. Marsupial panthers live in a lair among the fallen down trees at the border of the forest and savanna. Bushes give the shadow and shelter, and a savanna is a place where prey grazes and it is possible to hunt successfully.
Mother left to hunt, and her cubs play, dragging in a teeth and taking away each other an old dried up wing of a bird. They have jumped out of bushes and now wallow and struggle in a grass, enthusiastically growling. And they do not notice danger, which has to found them itself.
Terrible rumbling whence from above stops game of cubs of the marsupial panther and compels them to look round. The first, that they see were legs, huge long legs, everyone having pair of powerful hoof-like claws and a flat foot. At dizzy height above cubs there was a huge body, and from there, from height of branches the strange long-muzzled head with large forehead and wide-placed eyes has gone down. And rolling rumbling reached from a mouth of this head.
The male of the giraffamel has inhaled a smell of the become silent cubs of the marsupial panther, and in his head the primitive idea has ripened: “It is small, but smells, as the enemy. It is the enemy, but small and weak. It can be won!”
And the huge male of the giraffamel, having begun to roar at the top of its voice, began to attack cubs of the marsupial panther. Its relatives had joined the head of the family, as if revelling in impunity and an easy victory. Giant animals threateningly wound heads and stamped forward legs. And when the male of the giraffamel has pranced also his legs have struck by the ground absolutely near to cubs, striped cubs squeal the terror-stricken shout.
It is difficult to tell, whether the giant giraffamel assumed, that such small creatures can shout so loudly. And it has stopped him, but only for some seconds. His confusion, probably, has rescued life to panther cubs. They had time to disappear in a grass, but it has stopped a giant not for a long time. Two striped creatures which were run away at full speed in a high grass were perfectly visible to him. The giraffamel was absorbed by thirst of prosecution, and all other world has ceased to exist for him.
But the world has reminded to him of itself in the most terrible method: the large striped body ran into his right side, has moved down downwards, having scratched set of deep scars on his shoulder and a side, and has jumped aside . Between a spiteful camel and frightened to death striped cubs their mother - the furious marsupial panther - appeared. Seeing her determination to fight, the family of giraffamels began to recede, leaving the dominating male in loneliness. And his aggression has instantly died away, when the pain and fear have appeared. He started to recede, snorting and stamping the left forward leg. The right leg moved badly, the jet of blood flew on it, impregnating a wool and causing by the smell fear at his family. The panther did not try to pursue him: she stood, rearing wool on her back and slaping by tail on a grass, and near her hind legs two striped cubs pressed close.
Half-year has passed from this case. The damp season has approached to the end, it has replaced by dry and cool season. Herds before grazed far in a savanna, began to spend more time near rivers. In a small pond the female of the longteeth wombat and her grown up cub dig out tubers of water lilies in a dirt and eat them with a crunch and champing. The herd of camelopes goes down to lake on a watering place and animals drink greedy one by one, mowing eyes on large-toothed jumbos. Trees are still fresh and green, but when droughty season will prolong little bit longer as more than half of leaves will fall down. And giraffamels try to not miss an opportunity and gorge on for future use. Their wide flat humps on shoulders are similar to pillows, filled fat. The herd which last years was browsed near this pond, now heads by the young strong male who has come here two months ago. But near to this herd, in a shadow of trees other, older male always wanders. On his right side there are traces of the overgrown terrible scars, and right foreleg is not bent and it is more similar to a crutch: its muscles have shriveled up and have atrophied. And two direct originators of this condition of a huge herbivore animal are hidden in a grass nearby: there are two young magnificent males of the marsupial panther. They are eleven months old, they have not matured yet for breeding, therefore they while keep together. They already try to not be shown to their mother and live at edge of her territory, occasionally getting on a watering place to drink water and to hunt. And now they are hunting.
It is not known, whether they remember that lame male of the giraffamel, but now, possible, their roles in life performance have exchanged: from driven ones they became persecutors. Males track down the lame derelict and try to cut off his way to herd. It is easy: the new leader does not admit outcast to his former wives, he roars and tries to bite, if the lame old man will pass invisible border around of herd.
Striped hunters have stood, when the young leader once again has expelled an old animal from herd, accompanying an attack with a roar. And when the lame camel has walked to trees, two grey lightnings have silently jumped on him from grass. One of males has seized a ridge of a giant and has bitten through it, having deprived with mobility back legs of the giant camel, and the second at this time has broken off the basis of a victim’s neck by canines. Then both males of the marsupial panther have quickly receded and began to wait. Some seconds the camel stood motionlessly and silently groaned because of pain, and then have failed in a grass by chest. The herd of his neighbours has run off aside and has stopped in the distance, smelling about and cautiously looking at feasting predators. And marsupial hermins already gathered in a grass, expecting the share on a feast of life and death.
East borders of Australia are washed with Pacific ocean. It gradually becomes narrowly and narrowly: Atlantic extends and North America already has closely come nearer to Asia. But before disappearance of this ocean more some tens millions of years must pass, and it still amazes with riches of life.

Bestiary

Marsupial lemur (Phalangeropsis lemuroides)

Picture by Eugeny Hontor

Initial image - pictured by Pavel Volkov

The medium-sized omnivorous marsupial animal living on trees, the descendant of cuscuses (Phalanger). It lives by groups of 5 - 10 adult individuals under the leading of dominant animal (in different groups dominant is female or male). In comparison with ancestors animal swarms up trees much better: paws are longer, fingers are tenacious. The bases of fingers are connected by ligaments, fingers form two opposed groups: I + II and III + IV + V (as at a chameleon’s paw). The tail is long, prehensile, from above it is covered with wool, hairless from below. A head is roundish, ears are short, almost completely concealed in wool. Eyes are big, an iris of the eye is red-orange, sight is binocular. Colouring of a body is spotty, varies from gray-white with brown spots up to brown with sparse white spots. The tail is white with a black tip, serves for maintenance of communication between members of group. Also the voice is using for dialogue, it is rich in various signals: whistling, bark, hissing, chirp.
Animals eat leaves, fruits, insects and other invertebrates, reptiles and frogs, ravage bird nests. Inhabits rather thin woods and light forests, sometimes can come into a savanna. Groups of marsupial lemurs live on trees, at lack of food (in a dry season) can make transitions by the ground to new habitats.
The marsupium is partially reduced, it is represented by a ring plica of skin around nipple area. Cubs (6 - 8) keep paws for this plica and for a wool of mother. Later survived ones (no more than 3 - 4) get over on a back of mother and keep tails for the basis of her tail. At the age of 5 months cubs become independent and young males are expelled from group. They form groups of bachelors in which pass females from various family groups (females remain in group for some months longer, they are expelled by mature females of group during a season of pairing). Sexual maturity comes at the age of 1 year.

Longteeth wombat, yamooty (Odontovombatus trachydermus)
Order: Diprotodontia
Family: Vombatidae



Picture by Tim Morris

Initial image - pictured by Pavel Volkov

The huge ground marsupial animal, the descendant of the Australian wombats (Vombatus). During evolution the animal has increased in size, has replaced partially digging mode of life to completely ground and began more aggressive. The solitary animal, but during migrations animals of this species gather to big herds (up to hundred individuals).
Length of a body is up to 3 meters, weight up to 1 ton. Animal has a large head, short jaws and the strong, constantly growing teeth adapted for chewing of a rigid grass. In the bottom jaw there are tusks - second pair of the powerful incisors directed forward. At the closed mouth their ends jut outside. Roots of tusks pass along all jaw, due to this feature tusks are capable to maintain the big loadings: they are used for digging of the ground in searches of roots, tearing grass bunches out of ground. The animal is willingly fed near lakes, digging out in shallow waters of a rhizome of reed and water lily tubers. In case of an attack the animal uses tusks as the terrible weapon, capable to break a skull to a predator. Also for protection against large predators of Neocaenic Australia the skin formed thick shell, covering shoulders and a back; thickness of a skin in these places can be about 6 - 8 cm. Wool is short, on sides and a head it is chestnut-coloured, on a ridge there passes a longitudinal black strip, along the external side of each paw there is the vertical black strip reaching a ridge. On a muzzle above eyes there are pair of big white spots. A tail is short, the marsupium is well advanced, it opens back.
In a breeding season the male and the female keep some weeks as a breeding pair and feed together. Female gives birth only to 1 - 2 cubs once in 2 years. They spend very long time (about 8 months later) in a marsupium and later start to graze near to mother, but suck milk approximately up to one-year-old age. The female protects cubs before they will be one and a half year old, for this time they intensively grow and put on weight up to 200 kg. Sexual maturity at the age of 4 years.

Marsupial hermin (Mustelogale dolichocranus)
Order: Dasyuromorphia
Family: Dasyuridae

Picture by Eugeny Hontor

Initial image - pictured by Pavel Volkov

The descendant of the flathead marsupial mouse (Planigale subtilissima), the small marsupial predator of modern Australia The small size and an injurious mode of life have allowed this animal to assimilate feed by placental rodents introduced to Australia - mice and rats. The occurrence of a new predator - the marsupial hermin - also became a result of this adaptation.
It is an animal of the small size: length of a body is up to 20 cm, a tail - 15 cm, height at a shoulde - 6 cm. Legs are short, fingers have well advanced claws; the animal is capable to get on high trees without effort though it hunts on the ground and in holes of rodents more often. A head is flat and extended forward, face part of scull is short, brain part is long and low. Teeth are peaked and cutting. Colouring of the body is straw-coloured with a dim longitudinal brown strip on a ridge, a tip of a tail is dark, belly is light-yellow.
Animal hunts reptiles, small rodents and marsupials, it is capable to eat rabbit cubs, as required it hunts birds. Occasionally it picks up the rests of catch of large predators. For day eats food in the amount equal approximately to half of its body weight.
The marsupium is well advanced, opening back. Cubs are born by female up to 6 ones, no more than 2 – 3 cubs survive and grow up to the age of independence: hungry cubs can eat weaker brothers. Cubs stay in marsupium about 2 weeks, further the female leaves them in a nest. At the age of 3 months cubs become completely independent and leave mother, in 5 months they grove to the size of an adult individual and become sexual matured. For one year it happens no more than 3 packs, at the year of plentiful catch – 4 ones. Live only 3 - 4 years.

Marsupial panther (Phascothera lethalis)
Order: Dasyuromorphia
Family: Dasyuridae

Picture by Eugeny Hontor

Initial image - pictured by Pavel Volkov

Ancestor of this furious marsupial predator can be nowadays living in Australia marsupial rat (Phascogale tapoatafa). Researchers from times of the A. E. Brem mark significant bloodthirstiness of this small mammal. This line of evolution has resulted in Neocene formation in a most furious and successful marsupial predator - the marsupial panther.
The marsupial panther is the largest predator of Australia. It grows to the size of a lion: length of a body (without a tail) is up to 2 meters, a tail - up to 1 meter, weight is about 220 - 230 kg. The head is short and wide, canines in top jaw jut out from a little the closed mouth. Paws are long, with powerful claws, the animal looks like a long-legged cat by proportions. Colouring of a body is grey with cross black stripes on crupper (as at Thylacinus) and paws, a stomach is white. The tail is covered with short grey hair, on its end there is a rich hairy brush of black hair. Top of a head and nose bridge are dark. A voice sounds like a deep growling.
This predator eats large ground animals. Marsupial panther traps catch by different ways: attacking from a tree growing on a track, trapping at a watering place, hunting from ambush. This predator often pursues herd and kills weakened and fallen behind animals. Solitary species, protects territory supervising strictly. During breeding season males come on the next territories of females and form a pair of both animals hunting together in territory for some time. Over of a breeding season only the female and the grown up cubs, or the young animals who just have left mother hunt together. For one year female gives birth to one pack; in a pack, as a rule, there is no more than 5 cubs, usually this number is less. The marsupium opening back is well-advanced. Cubs remain in the marsupium before achievement of weight by them 250 - 300 grammes. Cubs who have left mother’s marsupium stay in the lair on the ground, among rocks or in the fallen trees. At the age of 3 months they study to hunt wounded catch, later participate in hunting together with mother. 6 - 7-month-aged cubs leave mother and first time keep by pack.

Camelope (Leptocamelus gracilis)
Order: Even-toed ungulates (Artiodactyla)
Family: Camelidae



As a result of activity of the man the species structure of the Australian fauna has strongly changed. So, on continent appeared intentionally or casually representatives of various groups of placental mammals are delivered. After disappearance of the man the part of species, being his satellites (synanthropic species) has become extinct, but some ones managed to adapt to life in wild. Among them there were also dromedaries (Camelus dromedarius). Unknown to a science in a wild condition, they quickly ran wild and perfectly adapted to life in extreme conditions. This endurance also has allowed them to go through mass extinction, and subsequently to be ancestors of one successfully surviving group of animals of Neocene Australia.
The camelope is not the real antelope, but the small species of the camels who have adapted to fast running. Camelopes live by herds (up to 50 - 80 heads, usually this number is less) in plains and in woodlands, eat grass and leaves of bushes. Growth of an adult animal at a shoulder is up to 1 meter, weight - up to 50 kg. Legs are long, brawny; the animal can accelerate momentum up to 70 kms per hour on a short distance. Distal phalanxes of fingers are small; hoofs are big, the basic loading at run falls on them. A hump on a back is not present. Neck is long, head is small, wedge-shaped, an face part of scull is lengthened. A wool is short, brownish-yellow. On a crown there is a bunch of long white hair, at males longer, than at females. Tail is short.
Female gives birth to pair of cubs once in 2 years. Colts do not differ from the adult individuals on body colouring. They are born very advanced and are capable in 3 hours after birth to follow herd. About 6 months of life they feed basically by parent milk, gradually passing on vegetative food. Sexual maturity comes at the age of 4 years.

Giraffamel (Dolichocamelus altus)
Order: Even-toed ungulates (Artiodactyla)
Family: Camelidae

Picture by Eugeny Hontor

Initial image - pictured by Pavel Volkov

The huge herbivore adapted for leaf and branch browsing in high trees. It lives by family groups of 5 - 9 animals, including the male, sexual matured females, several youngsters and colts. Lives in woodlands, occasionally comes to edge of wood. This species is up to 4 meters height (the male is larger than the female), surpasses fossil American species Alticamelus. A neck the long, wide-forehead head is the wedge-shape formed, lips and tongue are covered by thick skin, tongue is very long and flexible (it is extended on 40 cm from a mouth). On the top part of shoulders and in the beginning of a back there is a wide flat fat hump. Wool is short, dark-brown coloured with longitudinal yellowish stripes on a neck, crupper and legs. A tail is long. Legs are long, but distal phalanxes of fingers form wide "pad": the animal runs rather slowly (up to 40 kms per hour). It can actively protect itself from the enemy by impacts of legs and stings, attacking predators by all group.
The only colt is born once in 2 years. It is well advanced, about 1,5 m height, covered with a dark wool without stripes, already in half an hour after birth colt can follow group. Colt feeds by milk about 10 months, thus since first weeks of life it tries leaves from bushes. In 2 years it is already independent; sexual maturity at females comes at 5 years, at males - since 4 years. Animals live till 40 years.

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