Animals

The photos and videos were taken in April, 2014. The displays may have had changes if you visit Canberra's National Dinosaur Museum.

Hello everyone,

I know you are interested in dinosaurs and wanted to learn something about them. Let's start with a visit to Canberra's National Dinosaur Museum. When you arrive, you can see dinosaurs waiting to greet you.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Let's meet some of the dinosaurs waiting outside the museum. If you want to learn more about one of them, you can click on their names under the photo and it will take you to an information page about the dinosaur.

Let's start with an old favourite...

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

...for more information click the link below...

Tyrannosaurus Rex

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You may know the tyrannosaurus rex was a carnivore. It ate meat but do you know the meat eating dinosaur below?

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

...for more information click the link below...

Spinosaurus

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Not all meat eating dinosaurs were as big as these. Did you know there were smaller dinosaurs who would hunt together? Velociraptors might only be 60cm high and 1.6m long but the Utahraptor was bigger. Let's meet a Utahraptor.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

...for more information click the link below...

Utahraptor

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Not all dinosaurs were meat eaters.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

...for more information click the link below...

Brachiosaurus

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

...for more information click the link below...

Parasaurolophus

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

...for more information click the link below...

Stegosaurus

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Triceratops

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There were also reptiles that could fly. While not dinosaurs, they soared through the skies...

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Pteranodon

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Now let me show you around the inside of the National Dinosaur Museum. Click on the photo below to go to the next post and see inside the museum...

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Things to remember:

We don't really know what colours dinosaurs were. Fossils don't show colour. The colours you see are guesses.

We don't know what sounds the dinosaurs made. Like colour, the sounds are also guesses.

Scientists can make guesses about how dinosaurs looked by looking at fossils.

 

 

2 Comments

To see the post from Battalion Bloggers...

Save the Bilbies

After being one of the classes to receive some baby Australian animal card sets, members of the Battalion Bloggers class became interested in the bilby. This small marsupial, as they pointed out, looks a little like a rabbit. Being a marsupial, it is more closely related to kangaroos and koalas than placental mammalian rabbits. With their observation of similar appearance to rabbits and with Easter approaching, I mentioned Australia has chocolate Easter Bilbies as well as bunnies. 30c from each sale of the 150g Easter Bilby is donated to the Save the Bilby fund. Bilbies are endangered in the wild.

This extra information brought even more comments and questions so I decided to send a gift to the Battalion Bloggers. Here is a photo of one of three inside their gift...

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Their post after receiving the gift, linked above, shared comments from the students. Below are my replies...

Jenna, Catherine and Hilary – It was the interest your class showed in bilbies and Easter Bilbies that gave me the idea to send them. While they can be bought online, the trio were bought in a department store.

Bilbies are desert dwelling animals so they aren’t found in my area. They are omnivores (eat plants and animals) and do look like rabbits but are marsupials (pouched animals) like kangaroos and koalas. Rabbits are placental mammals like us.

Unfortunately, no zoos near me have bilbies but Taronga Zoo in Sydney does. The bilbies at Taronga Zoo will be having a royal visit shortly…

https://taronga.org.au/news/2014-03-06/royal-visit-taronga

Because I sometimes send parcels, I keep some styrofoam packaging just in case I need to pack a special item. I knew to survive the trip to Canada the bilbies would need to be well packed. I thought the styrofoam would help protect them from heat and bumps. I was very happy when I read they arrived safely.

Taronga Zoo's bilby information video

Lane – Parcels can be mysteries before they’re opened. The tension builds as we open them and finally can see what’s inside. Seeing questions from you class about bilbies and their chocolate cousins gave me all the excuse I needed to buy some for a class so interested. It’s not the first time I have bought merchandise from the Save the Bilby Fund people but the chocolate bilbies are the tastiest. 🙂

Sam – Bilbies are very cute and I hope to be able to take some photos of my own but it seems I would have to travel to Sydney over 500km from here to do so. Next time I have the chance to visit Sydney, I’ll have to visit Taronga Zoo and hope my cameras can handle low light. The bilbies are nocturnal animals in the wild. They are active at night so they have low light their zoo area so visitors see them during the day.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes. 

Melvin & Kale - Every year I would buy some chocolate Easter eggs for my class as a reward for their hard work. Since retiring, I haven’t had a class for which to buy them until your class showed interest in bilbies at just the right time of year. 🙂

Noam and Claire – The real bilbies are even cuter than the chocolate ones. Here is a link showing the bilbies in Perth Zoo on the other side of Australia. What I like about this link is it also shows the young joeys (baby marsupials) in the mother bilby’s pouch.

http://www.perthzoo.wa.gov.au/perth-zoo-breeds-threatened-bilby-5080/

Alex, Amy & Ethan - As cute as chocolate bilbies might be, I can’t resist the chocolate. That’s why I have photographed them. I keep the photos and eat the chocolate.

In the wild, the bilbies have suffered by the introduction of rabbits, foxes and cats to Australia. The Fund helps set up fenced areas to help their numbers grow. 🙂

http://www.savethebilbyfund.com/our-work.php

Martin, Cohen and Zyne – It can be a wonderful experience to receive an unexpected gift and try to guess what’s inside before opening the box. I would buy Easter chocolate for my classes every year. Now I am in contact with classes around the world, I only needed an excuse and your class’s interest in bilbies gave me the reason I needed. 🙂

Bilbies have even been included as characters in children's books here in Australia. Below is a photo of three books I have in my library...

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

This graphic should not be used & is only available to demonstrate some available bilby storybooks for children.

Hannah – I think we have something in common. As cute as they are, I wouldn’t be able to resist tasting the chocolate inside. We can buy Easter Bilbies online but here in Australia I know shops that sell them each year. They even have packs of 6 small bilbies but I liked the size I bought for your class because they are closer to the bilby’s size than the small ones.

Kelly and Kennedy – Can you imagine how hard it would have been to share only one bilby in class? I already had a box available and realised I should have been able to pack three bilbies safely inside. The foam was an attempt to protect them from heat and shocks so I’m not surprised that didn’t make a noise when the box was shaken. 🙂

Finally, a 4 minute 15 second video clip on Chocolate Easter Bilbies and their real cousins...

To see the Battalion Bloggers post...

A Surprise Package Inspires Action! 

Hello Battalion Bloggers,

In your reply to my comment, there seems to have been interest in the chocolate treat available for Easter in Australia, namely the chocolate Easter Bilby. I thought I would find what I could buy to photograph for you to see. Below are two photos of an Easter Bilby. This one is packed with 150g of chocolate. You can see 30c from each sale goes to the Save the Bilby Fund.

The Save the Bilby Fund site also has information about bilbies as well as photos of bilbies. They are very cute little marsupials and, in my opinion, much cuter than rabbits. No, their site does not sell chocolate bilbies and it would be a long way for the Easter Bilby to travel to drop off chocolate bilbies in Canada. 🙂

April 9 - The secret is now out. With their fascination for the bilby, the Battalion Bloggers were sent three chocolate Easter Bilbies for Easter. As you can see in the pictures below, 30c from each was donated to the Save the Bilby Fund.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

 

Here is a Wikipedia link for bilby information…http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Macrotis.

A Visit to Mogo Zoo

I mentioned to Peng Peng I had visited Mogo Zoo recently so I thought I would share some photos I had taken on that day. Animals are fascinating and I am always looking out for more photos to add to my collection. All of the below photos were taken by me and I am giving permission for schools and students to use them graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

White Lion

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Snow Leopard

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Silvery Gibbon

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Pygmy Marmoset

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Meerkat

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Cotton Top Tamarin

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Common Green Tree Frog

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Black and White Ruffed Lemur

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

African Serval

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

 

2 Comments

Hello Lane,

After looking at the photo of the bearded dragon I shared with your class, I decided to rescan the original 35mm slides with a newer, better quality film scanner. Because you liked the bearded dragon, I thought I would share the new scans with you first. Slowly, I am scanning all of my old 35mm slides and photo negatives. I have already discovered long forgotten memories through these little windows to the past.

Below is the original scan of the bearded dragon slide made using a lower quality scanner...

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

and here is the new scan of the slide plus another I haven't yet shared...

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

The new scans give finer detail and are truer in colour. This little guy was on the road as I drove to my first full time teaching school where I was the only teacher. Below is a photo of my first full time teaching school. I think you can get the idea it was a long way from towns. Children at the school lived on sheep and cattle stations and the closest town was 100km from the school.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Hi, Kennedy.

I wanted to share a photo of one of the tallest male eastern-grey kangaroos I have seen while out hiking...

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

This male was almost my height. We stood watching each other before I took this photo and he hopped away. The photo below shows a close up photo of a much smaller female. I think she has a pretty face.

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

1 Comment

Daniel had some wonders about emus. A simple answer wouldn't have allowed me to share the information I had…

Hi Ross! I liked how you wrote each of us a comment. Thank you for sending us the animal cards because we got more wonders. What did the emus evolve from and what is the tallest bird? I wonder how the real name of the emu is pronounced. How can you tell the difference between a male emu and a female emu? If you didn’t send us the cards, I wouldn’t know that emus swim! Which continent is Polynesia on? We are so lucky that we blog with you, Ross!

Daniel, what wonderful wonders!

As can sometimes happen, a comment can lead to a post so let's see if I can answer your questions. I like challenges. 🙂

Let's work backwards through your questions.

1. Which continent is Polynesia on?

Polynesia isn't a continent. It is a collection of over 1000 islands in the Pacific Ocean. It includes Hawaii in the north, Rapa Nui (Easter Island) in the east, Tonga in the west and New Zealand in the south-west. The traditional people of the islands are known as Polynesian. Having heard the Maoris of New Zealand speaking their language, I have also visited Hawaii. Despite the two sets of islands being so far apart, I was able to recognise words similar to each area.  Polynesians share similarities in culture and language.

As well as Polynesia, there are two other major Pacific island groups, Micronesia and Melanesia. Melanesia includes New Guinea to  the north of Australia. Australia isn't part of these groups as it is both the world's largest island and smallest continent. The many cultures of the traditional people of Australia are very different to Micronesians, Melanesians and Polynesians.

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

A Maori in traditional clothing.

2. What is the tallest bird?

The heaviest and tallest living birds are ostriches, native to Africa. They can weigh over 156kg and the males can be as tall as 2.8m. Next on the list are southern cassowaries found in northern Australia. Emus come along in 3rd place. The northern cassowary found in New Guinea comes in fourth. I have seen emus in the wild. I have only seen cassowaries and ostriches in zoos. Here is a Wikipedia link…

List of Largest Birds

When the Maoris first arrived in New Zealand (aka Aotearoa), they found a very large flightless native bird known as the moa. Look at the photo below of a reconstruction of the moa based on evidence from bones and fossils...

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

I photographed this moa in New Zealand's Auckland Museum. There were nine species of moas, this being one of the largest two. They could reach about 3.6m in height and weigh about 230kg.With the emus reaching up to only about 2m, the largest moas would have towered over them.

But these weren’t the largest known birds to have ever lived. Does a bird thought to be more than 3m tall and weighing around 400kg sound big? Here a link to an extinct giant bird…     Elephant Bird

3.How can you tell the difference between male and female emus?

emu (eem-you)

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes. This graphic should not be used without written permission from me.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.
This graphic should not be used without written permission from me.

The most important answer to this question is the birds can but let's see what I can find to help us. By looking at the photo above, I can't tell the difference between the male and female emus. They look very alike but it seems they can sound different. Males can grunt a little like a pig and, if they're caring for chicks, can whistle to their chicks whereas females make a more booming sound.

When I look at emus, I try to imagine them featherless with teeth in their beaks. When I do this, I imagine something like a dinosaur. Look at the photo of a dinosaur skeleton I photographed when at a museum in London. It has a long tail and clawed upper arms whereas  emus have a short tail and stumpy wings we don't notice because of their feathers but there are similarities such as in their feet and the way they moved. I suspect the dinosaur was a fast runner and I know emus can run at up to 50 kilometres per hour as I have been driving a car and slowed to see how fast nearby emus were running.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

 Of course, looking something alike doesn't mean they are alike. There can be similarities between very different animals simply because they need to do similar things so let's look at some ideas on the evolution of birds.

4. Where did emus evolve from?

The Evolution of Birds

For a long time people thought all of the dinosaurs died out with the great extinction caused by a large meteorite hitting Earth but we now believe this wasn’t completely so. We know the large dinosaurs couldn't survive the changes in the Earth but early mammals survived because they were small and fur covered. Fossils have shown this but what about the small dinosaurs?

I have seen information on two main types of dinosaurs...

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

No, I didn't take the dinosaur photo when I was young. In 1989, I visited a dinosaur display. 🙂

the sauropods (lizard-footed) including the largest dinosaurs (one is pictured above)…   Sauropods

and the ornithopods (bird-footed)...    Ornithopods

By their names, you might think we would be looking at ornithopods but it’s the sauropods I find most interesting, as it seems these dinosaurs include the ancestors of birds.

A type of sauropod dinosaur are the therapods (beast-footed)...     Therapods

Could some dinosaurs fly?

 Look at the photos I had taken when a "DInosaurs of China" collection visited Sydney in 1983...

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

This high quality fossil from China shows a winged reptile and the photo below shows a reconstruction of how they may have looked. These fliers weren't dinosaurs although many think of them as being dinosaurs. They were not the ancestors of birds.

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

We had no evidence dinosaurs had feathers until a very fine fossil was found in 1861, an archaeopteryx (are-key-op-ter-ix). Look closely at the photo below and you will see the fossil below is so fine you can see feathers yet it appears to have claws on its wings. This was not the fossil of a flying reptile. If the feathers hadn't been present, it would most likely to have been thought to be a small sauropod dinosaur. After the fossil was discovered, we could see a link between the dinosaurs and birds.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

In  the photo below, you will see how the archaeopteryx might have looked. Fossils don't preserve colour so the colours are only guesses but sometimes ancient feathers have been discovered in amber and can show colour. Because feathers trapped in amber are rare, scientists can't test them without destroying them to find out more but they have been found to be very old feathers.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Since the discovery of the archaeopteryx, more examples of fossils appearing to have feathers have been found...

Feathered dinosaurs

Scroll down the link and you will see a diagram known as a cladogram. The diagram shows a clade. Clades show an ancestor and all of its descendants sort of like a family tree humans use to show their family. Notice the ancient ancestor starts with therapods and leads to birds?

All dinosaurs didn’t become extinct, some evolved into the birds we see today.

Do any modern birds have claws?

I once wondered if any modern birds had clawed wings and the answer was no until I read about the hoatzin of South America. The hoatzin is also known as the "stinkbird" which gives us the idea it is a little smelly.

What interested me was its chicks. The chicks have two claws on each wing to help them climb around the trees where they live but they are true birds and not left over from the dinosaur days. The young lose the claws as they become adults. Below is a photo of a hoatzin chick I found on Wikimedia Commons where it is listed as in the public domain.

This photo was sourced through WIkimedia Commons where it is listed as in the public domain.

This photo was sourced through WIkimedia Commons where it is listed as in the public domain.

The Evolution of the Emu

Science tends to classify birds into orders and into further groups within orders. For the emu, it is grouped with other ratites, or flightless birds including the ostrich, cassowary and New Zealand's moa and kiwi. In the link below, you will see another cladogram, this time of birds. The ratites come off very early on and are separate from all other birds so you could say they are closer to the first birds to have evolved.

Classification of Modern Bird Orders 

One last photo, this time a close up look at the emu's legs...

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Emus are modern birds and not dinosaurs but, when I watch them walk, I can imagine them being dinosaurs striding or running across the land perhaps being chased by a carnivorous dinosaur. What do you think?

Class 4B is learning about the world's oceans and has started their studies by recalling information about Australia. Due to restrictions in links in the comments section of their blog, I have written this quick post to share links to some of the relevant posts. Below is a link to their blog post...

Our Country, Australia

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Hello 4B,

I found your post about Australia interesting. A number of times I have written posts about Australia, its geography and its animals. I thought I would share some links if you are interested.

You will see a number of photos on the posts have the following message under them...
"Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes."
This means I have given you permission to use the photos for school use so you are able to use the photos with the message in projects or presentations. Here are the links...

Australian Animals

http://rossmannellcomments.edublogs.org/2014/02/14/more-about-australian-animals-for-the-battalion-bloggers/

http://rossmannellcomments.edublogs.org/2013/11/29/more-on-australia-the-outback-and-its-animals-for-battalion-bloggers/

http://rossmannellcomments.edublogs.org/2013/07/05/some-australian-mini-beasts/

http://rossmannellcomments.edublogs.org/2013/05/17/desert-dwellers-and-adaptation-in-australia/

Geography

http://rossmannellcomments.edublogs.org/2014/01/16/australian-red-centre-for-declan-and-connor/

http://rossmannellcomments.edublogs.org/2013/10/24/about-australia-for-a-student-with-some-questions/

http://rossmannellcomments.edublogs.org/2013/05/08/comparing-population-densities-of-australia-canada-great-britain-new-zealand-and-u-s-a/

 

There are also posts on humpback whales migrating from the Southern Ocean...

http://rossmannellcomments.edublogs.org/2013/10/20/humpback-whale-migration/

http://rossmannell.edublogs.org/2013/10/19/whale-watching-from-merimbula/

 

We have so many interesting things to learn about in our world. Being and island continent, the sea is an important feature of our geography. We have contact with three of the worlds oceans, Pacific, Indian, and Southern, as well as the Tasman Sea, Timor Sea, Coral Sea and Arafura Sea.

I think you are going to discover interesting information in your studies of the world around us. 🙂

Ross Mannell
Teacher (retired), N.S.W., Australia

38 Comments

4B children in Victoria shared their portraits in pastels. Their artwork is vivid.

Pastel Portraits

In a comment I left them, I described a drawing of a blue wren I prepared for a post in 2013. It was first outlined in pencil before being coloured with pastels. I then used a finger to smear colours for a smoother blend and finally used a pencil point to add texture. As comment sections on blogs rarely allow graphics, below in the drawing for them to see if they wish...

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

You can click on the picture to see it enlarged.

4 Comments

To see the Battalion Bloggers post...

A Surprise Package Inspires Action!

Hello Battalion Bloggers,

I am sorry I have been mostly off line since the beginning of the year. The New Year is normally slow for me but this year has been very busy. I am trying to catch up a little now in between tasks.

One of Australia’s two major supermarket chains had a promotional idea. They decided to release animal cards children (including big ones like me) could collect. With the success of the first series on “grown up” animals, they ran a new very cute series on baby animals. I set to work and managed to collect three sets with the help of local staff and then had to decide where they should go. Australian children didn’t need them because they could get their own so two sets headed to Canada and one to USA.

I can see by your bar graph, some animals caught your interest more than others. I know I have favourites I like to photograph but my favourites are usually what I am photographing at that time.

Your comments…

TREE ANIMALS

Ethan – Flying foxes are very common in many areas of Australia (click Australia to see a map) and Asia. Sometimes at night I have been in my backyard and heard the flying foxes squabbling in a neighbour’s fruit tree. They are also found in cities. I know of colonies in Sydney. Bats are fascinating. I have even encountered bats (not fruit bats) when I tried some spelunking (cave exploring).

Now a less pleasant fact...

Some wild flying foxes and other bats have been found to have a problem for humans. They can carry a virus known as lyssavirus and so shouldn’t be handled as infection could be fatal if untreated. Lyssavirus is closely related to the rabies virus. I always find it safer not to handle wild animals.

Of course, human activity can be a problem for bats through habitat destruction or, in the case of what I think is a dead little broad nosed bat, collisions with cars.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Melvin – The grey-headed flying fox is the bat I most commonly see at night around my home. Their squawks as they feed and squabble are easy to hear. Pteropus poliocephalus – my Latin isn’t great but I think the scientific name stands for wing (ptero), work (opus), greyish (polio), head (cephalus) so pteropus poliocephalus probably means grey-headed working wing.

According to Wikipedia, there are 60 species of flying fox bats in the world of which I think Australia has four, the little red, spectacled, black and grey-headed flying fox.

Catherine, Hilary, Aya and Jenna – Koalas are certainly picky eaters. Eucalypt trees (we also call them gum trees) are common and have a number of species in Australia but koalas won’t eat the leaves of all kinds. If we were to eat the leaves, we would become very sick because of the eucalyptus oil in the leaves but koalas are adapted to digesting the leaves. This can take some time. This is part of the reason koalas spend so much time sleeping. It saves energy so, rather than being lazy, they are being energy efficient. Would that make the “green” koalas?
Koalas don’t normally need to find and drink water because they take it in with the leaves but I have seen video of koalas after a fire has come through. If they survive, they can be very thirsty. Firefighters and animal rescue people have poured water in their hands and wild koalas they find have drunk from their hands. They are amazing little animals.

Jenna, a little extra information – A number of animals are known to swallow rocks or gravel to help digest plant foods. Such stones are known as gastroliths (mean stomach stone) and were even used by some dinosaurs. Many birds also use them for the same reason, they help digest food. As you know, chickens don’t have teeth to help chew food.

 

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.
This graphic should not be used without written permission from me.

LAND ANIMALS

Kennedy – I have seen mobs (the name for a group of kangaroos) of red kangaroos bounding across drier areas of Australia. The males can be around my height and are very strong. Did you know the males fight using their strong legs? Until I was able to deliver it to a zoo, I had a young, orphaned red kangaroo. When it saw me, it would hop up and kick me but was too small to cause any damage. It was calm when it got into a sack. For the young roo, it was like being in its mother’s pouch. There are no red kangaroos near where I live now. We mainly have eastern-grey kangaroos and wallabies. Kangaroos are only native to Australia.

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

eastern grey kangaroos

Kelly – Joey is a term we Aussies use for the young of most marsupials. So kangaroo and koala babies are joeys. My favourite name for a baby animal goes to the young of the echidna and platypus. Echidnas and platypuses aren’t marsupials (pouched animals). They are monotremes, egg-laying mammals. Monotreme young are known as puggles.
Only responding to movement might seem odd but it appears in other animals. I think I read t-rex dinosaurs probably only responded to movement so, if you ever face one, stay still. 🙂 It wouldn’t work with lions.
Here’s a puzzle for you, if red kangaroos only detect motion, does the world disappear if the kangaroos are still and no wind moves grass and trees? I suspect there is some vision at all times but kangaroos only respond to movement because the signal is stronger.

This is a public domain image sourced through Wikimedia Commons.

This is a public domain image sourced through Wikimedia Commons.

Daniel – As you would have place names and other words taken from native languages, many names in Australia come from local Aboriginal names. Sometimes, names might be exactly native because early European settlers misunderstood.
For emu, we aren’t certain where the name originated. Wikipedia states it may have come from the Arabic for large bird and be used by early Portuguese explorers.
When checking on the world’s largest living birds, the emu may be second in height but I suspect the cassowary (found in Australia and New Guinea) is heavier and the Australian southern cassowary might grow slightly taller. The tallest bird know to have existed was probably the giant moa (Dinornis) originally found in New Zealand. They are thought to have become extinct mainly because of hunting by early Polynesian settlers (Maoris).

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.
This graphic should not be used without written permission from me.

Here are just a few Aboriginal names for emu from the very many languages…
Ngurruy (Ngiyampaa people of N.S.W.)
Kalthi (Paakantyi people of N.S.W.)
Dhinawan (Wiradjuri people of N.S.W.)
Kawir – (Wembawemba people of N.S.W.)
Warrhukaathi – (Diyori people of S.A.)

These words are taken from “Macquarie Aboriginal Words” – ISBN 97809497571

Sam – While I have seen bilbies in zoos, I haven’t seen them in the wild where they are endangered.  There is a national plan trying to help the bilby numbers grow again.

It may interest you to know something about Easter in Australia. You probably know about chocolate Easter eggs and Easter bunnies but, here in Australia, you can also buy Easter bilbies. Money raised from their sales helps to save the bilby through donation to conservation programs

This picture is in the public domain because its copyright has expired and was sourced through Wikimedia Commons.

This picture is in the public domain because its copyright has expired and was sourced through Wikimedia Commons.

Alex – Bearded dragons are interesting and I have held the spiky little guys and have seen them in the wild. They can be bought as pets here but you must be licenced in my state because all native reptiles are protected. They are not allowed to be collected from the wild.

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Isaac – Tasmanian devils are interesting carnivorous marsupials (pouched animals). Early European settlers in Tasmania would hear the sounds of the devils and feared evil spirits might be at work.
I have seen devils in zoos but didn’t see them in the wild when I was in Tasmania. Despite their snarls and strong jaws, they are cute little guys but I wouldn’t place a finger near their mouths.
Wombats are very strong diggers. I often come across their burrows when hiking. I suspect the Tasmanian devils find it much easier to use an empty wombat burrow than digging their own.

Click the link below to hear Tasmanian devil sounds.

TasmanianDevilSounds

This audio file was sourced through "Community Audio" where it was listed without a creator or any copyright instructions. I assume it is in the public domain.

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

I didn't have a Tasmanian devil photo in my collection but did have this drawing of mine.

Kate – I have not only seen many eastern blue-tongued lizards (skinks) in the wild, I have found them visiting my yard as they search for bugs or delicious snails (not the French escargot type). They are docile (not aggressive) but I tend to leave them alone unless they’re injured. I did once find one seriously hurt little guy in my yard and had to take it to a local vet but he didn’t survive the injury. I think perhaps a dog had attacked him. Dogs and cats can be dangerous for many small native animals. The video below is a northern blue tongue giving birth…

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Noam – Short-beaked echidnas are native to most areas of Australia, including around my home. I have had one exploring my yard and seen them in parks in my town as well as in the wild. They’re aren’t aggressive and can’t bite but, being monotremes (egg laying mammals), they are fascinating little guys. When threatened, they use their strong claws to hold on to the ground while they show their spines.

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Peng Peng – I have seen dolphins off our coast a number of times, including bottlenose dolphins. They are beautiful animals and seem curious when they see humans in our waters. Bulls, cows and calves are good names although people often only think of cattle but the titles are used for other mammals including elephants.
Dolphins are part of the Order Cetacea of animals. Cetacea include whales, dolphins and porpoises.

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.
This graphic should not be used without written permission from me.

I photographed these dolphins as they swam near the shore.

Claire – Bottlenose dolphins can be found in oceans around the world but I don’t think they tend to reach Canadian waters because of cooler temperatures.
Did you know some sharks like bottlenose dolphins, especially the calves? The problem for sharks is the dolphins can often protect themselves. Dolphins turn and charge the shark. Sometimes groups attack and have been know to kill a shark.

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This graphic should not be used without written permission from me.

I believe this is a common dolphin. I photographed it while on a whale watching cruise off our coast.

Cohen – Port Jackson sharks can be found in Australian coastal waters but don’t tend to be along the most tropical areas. As the name suggests, they are also found in Port Jackson waters. You may not have heard of Port Jackson but it is the bay around which Sydney has been built.
As their diet includes mostly molluscs and similar creatures, they aren’t seen as dangerous to humans. Their egg cases are sometimes washed up on beaches and are easy to recognise.

This photo was sourced through Wikimedia Commons where it is listed as in the public domain.

This photo was sourced through Wikimedia Commons where it is listed as in the public domain.

Hannah – Black swans can be found on our saltwater lake or in large ponds. There is one area in a town only 35km from my home that can fill with water in wetter times. I once stopped to watch numerous black swans wandering along grassy areas near the water then realised all of the adults were being followed by cygnets. They can be aggressive if they think they or their babies are threatened.

Blac Swan pair

Amy – Turtles can be fascinating animals. My two nieces grew up in a Queensland town named Bundaberg. While Bundaberg is know for its fields of sugarcane, the coast east of the town is know for Mon Repos Conservation Park. Between November and March each year loggerhead, flatback and green turtles come ashore to lay their eggs in the beach sand.
Nightly tours during that period of the year allow visitors to see they turtles laying eggs or, 6 to 8 weeks later, see hatchlings emerging from the sand and heading to the water.
We all know humans are either male or female as they develop before birth but turtles are different. The temperature of the sand makes the difference for turtles. Higher temperatures help turtles hatch sooner and emerge as females. Cooler temperatures tend to result in males.

 

This photo was sourced through Wikimedia Commons where it is listed as in the public domain

This photo was sourced through Wikimedia Commons where it is listed as in the public domain

Martin – Australian sea lions can be seen around southern and south-western areas of Australia but not normally near where I live. We are more likely to find Australian fur seals in our waters. One old male was an annual visitor to a favourite rock in our town’s lake.

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These are New Zealand fur seals. They have also been found along Australia's coastline.

Well, what started out with an intention to write a short comment seems to have blown out into something a little longer. It’s like much in life, we start with some knowledge and seem to collect more as life moves along. We learn. We share. We are all both teachers and students in life.

Learning is a lifelong journey we all travel. When we travel it with others our journey is all the richer.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes. This graphic should not be used without written permission from me.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.
This graphic should not be used without written permission from me.

For the original Battalion Bloggers post, click below and scroll down to their October 18 reply in answer to an early comment...

Battalion Bloggers

Hello Battalion Bloggers,

After posting the previous comment for you, I realised I hadn't commented on a reply you left for me on your blog in October. I intend keeping it shorter as I am running out of time and will filming about four hours after posting this. Because I wanted to share some photos, I needed to create another post. Two for one class in a day is probably a record.

Does Australia celebrate Thanksgiving?

Thanksgiving isn’t celebrated in Australia. Rather than free settlers, the first Europeans sent to Australia were convicts and guards from England. They arrived in 1788. Bringing northern hemisphere ideas to the southern hemisphere and not having farmers meant early attempts at crops failed. People were at first starving as rations were short. A spring planting in England might be March but planting in March here is autumn (fall). One of my ancestors arrived as a convict aboard the second fleet in 1789. Life was starting to get easier but I don’t think the convicts felt like giving thanks for being so far from home.

Do you know if Ayers Rock HAS iron in it? We would LOVE to know!

Ayers Rock is sandstone but the redness is iron oxide (rust). The area around Uluru is often known as The Red Centre. You can see the contrasting colours of red soil and blue sky in some of my photos.

Kata Tjuta

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

The lace monitor is even taller than Mrs. Renton is!

You'll find information about monitor lizards in today's earlier post for you at...

More On Australia, The Outback and Its Animals

We wondered if the kangaroos on the golf course were playing golf.

The kangaroos on the golf course aren’t interested in golf unless a ball hits them but birds have been known to swoop down and take balls. The kangaroos like the green grass and lying in the sun.

Do you have pictures of Sapphire?

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

It makes us wonder if you have ever been bitten by a snake.

I have seen many poisonous snakes including a couple on the playground of two of my schools. They were both red-bellied black snakes and would rather escape than try to bite someone.

I did once stand on the tail of a brown snake hiding under a branch. I saw it move and stepped back to let it escape. They can be aggressive but the branch it was under prevented it from seeing me. I have also seen another aggressive snake, the tiger snake, on a track in front of me so I walked around it. When hiking, I wear heavy steel capped boots and try to walk where I can see the ground as an extra precaution. Walking in thick, long grass in warmer months isn't a good idea.

I find snakes better left alone in the wild but I have held some pythons in animal parks over the years. They are cool to the touch and very interesting. Many people are surprised they aren’t slimy.

Red-bellied Black Snake

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

 

We wondered if “fortnight” was a week, or overnight.

Fortnight is a word still used in Australia and yes it is fourteen nights or two weeks. Many people in the world speak English but there are differences. Much of our Australian English is like England’s English but there are also some similarities with North American English.

3 Comments

In the comments of their poster entitled “Welcome to Grade THREE!”, the Battalion Bloggers asked some questions. Posts lead to questions and questions to a search for answers. Below is the next part of our shared learning journey as I attempt to find answers and learn more along the way.

For their original post…

Welcome to Grade THREE!

For the related preceding post on this blog...

The Outback and Other Information

Hello Battalion Bloggers,

I know you're having are busy in school at this time and I have been very busy with DVD/CD work for schools and community groups so it seems it can take us some time to reply to each other but our contacts are always interesting.

I thought I would share some ideas I had when thinking about the questions and curiosities in your comment. I know some ideas I share can be a little hard to understand at times but this is what can make learning interesting as we try to discover meaning. To answer you, I always have to research more information, try to understand what I find and then try to explain what I find in in a way you can more easily understand. Our posts and comments means our learning journeys cross for a time. Here's what resulted...

We are glad that the perentie and lace monitors are only slightly venomous and that they are shy and will run away when they see people. Can the perentie and lace monitor venom kill a person if they bite them?

In the original post, I mentioned the monitors are thought to be slightly venemous but I haven't heard of any deaths from monitor bites in Australia. Some of the effects of a monitor bite from lace monitors or Komodos might be (according to Wikipedia's Komodo reference) rapid swelling, localized disruption of blood clotting, and shooting pains, with some symptoms lasting for several hours. The large Komodo has been known to attack and kill animals such as goats and there are reports of human deaths. As with all animals, we should be careful with the biting end and leave wild animals alone.

Perentie

This graphic has been sourced through Wikimedia Commons and is listed as in the public domain.

This graphic has been sourced through Wikimedia Commons and is listed as in the public domain.

Lace Monitor

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

We wonder why the komodo dragon is only found in Indonesia now and not in Australia anymore?

Komodo Dragon

The photo was sourced through Wikimedia Commons where it was listed as in the public domain.

The photo was sourced through Wikimedia Commons where it was listed as in the public domain.

Different species of monitor lizards are found in many countries. According to Wikipedia, they are found "through Africa, the Indian Subcontinent, to China, down Southeast Asia to Indonesia, the Philippines, New Guinea, Australia and islands of the Indian Ocean, and the South China Sea. A large concentration of monitor lizards occurs on Tioman Island in the Malaysian state of Pahang." What this suggests is there are many species of monitor lizards. The Komodo, perentie and lace monitors are just three.

HOW could they get to Indonesia when they once roamed Australia?

In my post, I mentioned fossils of Komodo dragons were found in Australia so they had once been here. If you look at the Komodo Dragon Evolutionary History link, it mentions recent fossil finds in Australia suggest it's possible Komodo dragons evolved in Australia and spread to Indonesia when sea levels were much lower during the last glacial period (around 12,000 to 110,000 years back). With the end of the glacial age, they were cut off from Australia by rising waters.  Perhaps a changing environment wasn't suitable for them here in Australia so they died out leaving the Komodo only in Indonesia. We would need more information to be certain but, at this time, an accepted belief is the monitors evolved in Asia perhaps 40 million years back and then spread.

We also have evidence of much a much larger monitor lizard in Australia known as Megalania (Megalania prisca or Varanus priscus). It is thought to have died out 30,000 to 40,000 years back so it's possible the earliest indigenous Australians had seen them. Most recent estimates say they might have grown to 4.5m (15 feet) and weighed up to 331kg (730lb). With the largest wild Komodo measuring 3.13 m (10.3 ft) long and weighing 166 kg (366 lb), the megalania would have been huge. I wouldn't go hiking in our national parks if they were still around.

The photo was sourced through Wikimedia Commons where it was listed as in the public domain.

The photo was sourced through Wikimedia Commons where it was listed as in the public domain.

We wonder if they lived in both places but then they died out in Australia.

I liked your suggestion and suspect there was a time when they were found in both places. Somewhere back in time monitors must have had a common ancestor. The different species evolved when populations were cut off from others. Adapting to the local conditions, in time they developed differences to other populations. When there is enough change so one population is unlikely to breed with another*, they are said to be a new species. Look at the monitor lizard below. It is a varanus salvatorii (Salvatori's monitor) from New Guinea.

Do you notice all of the monitor lizards on this post have similarities? They are all part of the genus varanus (monitor lizards).

Do you see they also all have differences? The differences suggest different species.

Salvatori's Monitor Lizard

The photo was sourced through Wikimedia Commons where it was listed as in the public domain.

The photo was sourced through Wikimedia Commons where it was listed as in the public domain.

New Guinea's Salvadori's Monitor Lizard

* There are examples where animals of different species can interbreed (have babies together) so long as the animals are of the same genus.

horse (equus ferus) + donkey (equus tigris)= mule   

(equus is the genus and ferus/tigris are the species names)

male tiger (panthera tigris) + lioness (panthera leo) = tigon

male lion (panthera leo) + female tiger (panthera tigris) = liger

(panthera is the genus and tigris/leo are the species names)

Why would they die out?

As mentioned above. the Komodo dragons may have died out in Australia because of climate change. As an example, when the first people came to Australia perhaps fifty to sixty thousand years ago, Australia was much wetter with forests and lakes. In time, changes in climate led to Australia drying out leaving desert where once there was forest. There might have been other reasons why they became extinct in Australia but, without evidence, we're only guessing.

Spike is SO cute! We think that the picture of the echidna digging his claws into the grown and curling into a ball to protect himself was SO cute! Do echidnas get frightened easily?

Echidna

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

When I discovered an echidna in my garden, it was probing the soils with its snout in search of food. It didn't take much notice of me and I suspect their eyesight isn't too strong. When I came too close, it dug its claws into the ground and showed its spines. I don't think they are too easily frightened but, just like you, they are careful if danger is near.
Once they feel danger has gone, they go back to their hunt for food.

We wonder if they do much damage to gardens like voles can do?

If I hadn't seen the echidna in my garden, I don't think I would have known it had been there as they leave little trace. It's possible others have been in my garden but I have only ever seen one. I have seen many in the wild. I saw the above echidna waddling its way across a local park. Even though I was close, it either didn't see me or wasn't frightened.

We wonder what they like to eat … besides ants!

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

In the wild, the echidnas mostly eat ants and termites. The above photo shows a local termite mound around 1m high although I have seen some termite mounds much higher in other parts of Australia. When hiking, I sometimes see termite mounds where I can tell echidnas have been using their strong claws to dig. Once opened, the echidna can use its long, sticky tongue to catch ants or termites.

My favourite local animal sanctuary, Potoroo Palace , has three echidna. It isn't possible to gather enough ants or termites for them so the keepers mix a special recipe to feed their echidna. The mix includes minced meat, olive oil, raw egg, glucose powder, baby porridge, processed bran, vitamin E powder and calcium powder. In the video below, you will see Spike enjoying a meal as the keeper shares information with tourists.

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We wonder how small an echidna’s egg would be. We STILL think it’s SO cool that they are egg-laying MAMMALS like platypuses!

Echidna eggs are only about 2cm across. The females produce only one small egg about two weeks after mating. It's egg is placed in a backward facing pouch where it hatches about 10 days later. The baby echidna (known as a puggle) stays in the pouch for about two to three months before it's ejected from the pouch. It's spines start to develop in the pouch. Can you imagine a mother with a spiky baby in it's pouch? Perhaps when the puggle gets too spiky, mum thinks it's time for baby to leave the pouch.

How BIG do echidnas grow … we wonder if our Grade Six teacher would be a GOOD referent for measuring an echidna!

Long-beaked echidna can be 45cm to 100cm in length and weigh around 4kg to 9kg. The short-beaked echidna in my area  can be around 30cm to 45cm in length and weigh 2 to 7 kg.

We really enjoyed seeing all the pictures of your fieldtrip to the Outback! It looks like hardly anybody lives there. It would probably be a hard place to live because it looks like there aren’t any stores around to get food or water. It looks SO hot too!

 Summer temperatures in Australia can reach over 40C in summer. There has been a few examples measured up to around 50C. My first full time school wasn't in a desert area but was in a semi-arid (not quite desert) area. I recorded a maximum temperature in the shade of around 45C for two weeks running. As the sun goes down, the temperatures in Australian deserts can normally drop down to around 3C to 6C and there have been recordings of temperatures as low as -7C in Alice Springs in winter.

We loved Ayer’s Rock and the Devil’s Marbles at Karlu Karlu. We wonder how those rocks got stacked like that. They look like they could fall off at any moment! We wonder how long they’ve been stacked like that...

Karlu Karlu

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

In the top photo, you can see Karlu Karlu has many such granite rocks but they haven't been stacked. The second photo gives you an idea of how large they can be. The man in the photo is standing on and leaning against the same rock. Erosion by rain and wind has been at work wearing away the rock at what looks like the base of the upper section. The upper section will eventually break off and fall. Maybe it already has. The photo was taken 28 years back but the erosion is a slow process.

… and also how old Ayer’s Rock is! It just looks like a place where tons of poisonous snakes and spiders would live.

Uluru is known as a monolith (single stone) and is sandstone. The sandstone was thought to have been deposited perhaps 550 million years ago. There are snakes and spiders around Uluru but I think the snake is the woma python. Being a python, it isn't poisonous. There are poisonous species of snakes in my area near the coast. They are the red-bellied black snake, brown snake, tiger snake, and death adder. I have seen the first three in the wild but, as yet, haven't seen a death adder.

Do armadillos live in the outback?

Armadillos aren't native to Australia.

How long and how tall is Ayer’s Rock?

It is really much larger than what you can see in the photos. Most of it is below the surface. If you were to go for a walk around the base of the Uluru you see in the photo, it would be a walk of a little over 9km (~6 miles). The second photo gives you an idea of how high it is. You can see people have climbed to what looks like the top although the real highest point on Uluru is 348m above the base and is to the left and not quite in the photo.

Uluru  (Ayers Rock)

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Uluru Climb

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

 We LOVED all your pictures of the outback. We loved how you told us that people would build their houses underground to stay cooler. How would they get to their houses?

Coober Pedy

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Coober Pedy's underground homes can be basic but I have been inside one I would consider more luxurious. It included a swimming pool with a walled part built out of the home. Like most homes, it had a front door, rooms, furniture and electricity. While there are no windows in walls, there are vents in the ceilings for light and air.

What would happen if a rainstorm came … would those houses get flooded?

Being in an arid area of Australia, its average yearly rainfall is only about 156mm (about 6") so flooding isn't too much of a problem. The homes also tend to be built into hills and not low where water might be a problem.

Do the houses leak when there is a rainstorm?

Low rainfall means having leaks would be a rare but I guess they would have big problems if climate change brought much higher rainfall. People find being underground is more comfortable where summer temperatures have reached as much as 47C although the average summer temperature is 30-32C. The big attraction for living in Coober Pedy is the opal. Opal is mined and made into jewellery.

Wouldn’t it be hard to dig into the ground to build a house?

Many in Coober Pedy are miners. They can use digging machines to dig mines in search of opals or to dig homes. Early settlers probably used a pick to dig their homes. Imagine, you don't need bricks or timber if you want a new room, you just need a place to dump what you dig. If you're lucky, you might even find opal when digging your house.

I thought I had a photo of a home interior but I haven't as yet located it amongst thousands of old photos so below is a photo I found through Wikimedia Commons.

This photo was sourced through WIkimedia Commons. The information below shows the original author.

This photo was sourced through WIkimedia Commons. The information below shows the original author.

Description: Coober Pedy, South Australia - underground house display.        Date: 26 August 2003     Author: Nachoman-au

Couldn’t it cave in?

The home I visited looked very solid. Experienced miners would know the danger of cave-ins if they weren't careful. You would probably find the town has rules on how dugout homes should be built. I suppose a serious earthquake might cause problems but serious earthquakes are rare in Australia.

We wonder, if they go out, how do they find their houses again, if they are underground. Do they mark an x on the roof?

Like you finding your home, they know where their homes are in town so they wouldn't need to mark their homes. They might simply remember it's on the north side of the third hill from the local shop.

We wonder what kinds of animals live in the outback.

That is a big topic so let's look at the area around Uluru. Go to the Wikipedia reference on Uluru and scroll down for some details.

There are known to have been 46 mammal species found around although there are currently only 27 including bats. There are also birds, reptiles, insects and frogs. Frogs in the desert? There are four known species of frogs found around the base of Uluru where you also find waterholes. There can also be introduced animals such as mice, camels, dogs, foxes, cats and rabbits.

emus

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

camels

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Hello Heather and Keira,

Firstly, let me apologise for taking two weeks to reply to your question. It has been a very busy time working on a project for a choir but I now have two weeks before the next project starts so it's time to catch up.

I now have another post for you but it may be challenging to understand some of its content. I have found the more I learn, the more I realise how little I know. Checking ideas and information for you and others when I write a post can often challenge my understanding but its by challenging ourselves to understand we can learn.

 

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Back on the "How did Earth begin?" post I tried to answer your challenge. Like all good enquiring minds, one idea can lead to another so, in the comments section, you added...

 In one of the paragraphs, we noticed that you talked about possible life on Mars. Keira thinks that over time, the sun will come too close to Earth, and Earth might shatter. That might be a possibility. There is one problem though. Martians could have died, but Mars didn’t shatter. Do you think that WE are Martians CHANGED into human?

Our minds can be a very powerful weapon against ignorance when we have curiosity and a will to find answers. This is particularly important for science as it tries to find the answers to questions. As lovers of science, your curiosity can lead you in all sorts of directions. I know mine does as I try to find answers. Let's look at a simple answer...

Do you think that WE are Martians CHANGED into human?

It's possible.

Too quick an answer?

Let's put it this way, I'm not comfortable completely ruling out many ideas. It is possible first life on Earth came from Mars but I don't think it's likely.

Here's some mind blowing maths for you. Just say you shuffled a deck of playing cards and put four down on the table...

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

When you put down the first card, the chances of it being a 7 of Diamonds is 1 in 52 because there is only one 7 of Diamonds in a deck of 52 cards. To then put down a 3 of Clubs, the chances are 1 in 51 because there were 51 cards left.  For the King of Spades, it's one in 50 and, for the 10 of hearts, 1 in 49. So what is the chance of dealing just those four cards in that order from any normal deck of cards...

The chance of dealing those exact cards in that order is only 1 in 6,497,400 ... (52 x 51 x 50 x 49 = 6,497,400). It's not very likely we would get those exact four cards in that order if we shuffled and dealt four cards again but it is possible. Of course, a magician or a card trickster could cheat to get the results over and over but then the cards aren't random.

This type of maths looks at probability, i.e. chances of something happening. If we only have one card and it's the King of Clubs, the chances of dealing a King of Clubs is one in one or 100%. The chances of dealing a 7 of Diamonds is zero in one or 0% because we don't have that card. Can't maths be amazing?

For really mind blowing maths, go to the end of this post where I work out the chances of dealing out all 52 cards in an exact order, at least if I have the maths correct.

Where Did Life On Earth Come From?

I know of two main ideas for the origin of life according to science.

1. The Primordial Soup

This idea suggests billions of years ago, chemicals became concentrated (thicker) in pools of water (the primordial soup). By chance, these chemicals were able to form amino acids (the basis of life including us). In time, they combined to make more complex compounds and eventually life. This process is known as abiogenesis.

The chances of life in this way would be seen as very unlikely but, if this process is correct, it did happen. Look again at the card example in "The REALLY Mind Blowing Maths" at the end of this post. The order of cards I dealt was very unlikely but it did happen.

2. Panspermia

Some theorists suggest life might have evolved elsewhere and was brought to Earth on meteorites (Panspermia). This might be better suited to the idea life on Earth started on Mars. If life had started on Mars, a meteor strike might have thrown Mars rock into space and it may have made it to Earth but, then again, life on Earth and Mars might have come from anywhere in space. Remember, if it was life, it would have been very simple, possibly single cells, not animals like us.

No, if you watch the video clip to the end, I don't believe aliens are experimenting with us. It is possible but very unlikely. 🙂

What does Ross think?

The first idea can explain how life itself could have started, whether here or somewhere else in the universe. The second suggests how life might have made it to many places in the universe. Think of it, life might have started in many places in the universe and been spread to the stars, or at least their planets.

Did Mars Once Have Oceans and Rivers?

One of the important resources for life as we know it is liquid water. There is evidence rivers, lakes and oceans once flowed on Mars but liquid water hasn't been seen on Mars. Much of the water was probably lost to space long ago. There is plenty of evidence water as ice is found at the Martian poles and growing evidence it is to be found in the rocks and soils so life may well exist there waiting to be discovered but don't expect anything like animals running around. It's very unlikely intelligent life ever existed on Mars but is likely life did and/or does exist.

You have questioning minds so I suspect you're wondering, what happened to the Martian oceans and rivers?

Here is a video looking at the way Mars may have lost much of its atmosphere...

You may have understood the idea energy from the sun (the solar wind) caused Mars to lose most of its atmosphere so you might wonder why this didn't happen here on Earth.

Why did Earth keep its thick atmosphere while Mars lost much of its atmosphere?

Let's first look at the photo I prepared for you. It's made by placing a magnet under a piece of paper then sprinkling iron sand over the paper.

 

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

The lines you can see in the sand help us see the magnetic field of the magnet. You can see the lines run from one end to the other of the magnet. The Earth also has a magnetic field because of its rotating iron core in its centre. The iron core helps create a much stronger magnetic field than on Mars. It protects us from much of the solar wind. Think it of a little like an umbrella in the rain.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Earth's umbrella (magnetic field) is stronger than that of Mars so we get better protection. Below is a NASA diagram showing the magnetic field of Earth. If Earth's centre cooled and slowed reducing our magnetic field or solar wind became stronger, Earth would also eventually lose much of its atmosphere.

This NASA graphic was sourced through WIkimedia Commons where it is listed as in the public daomain.

This NASA graphic was sourced through WIkimedia Commons where it is listed as in the public domain.

 Keira thinks that over time, the sun will come too close to Earth, and Earth might shatter. That might be a possibility. There is one problem though. Martians could have died, but Mars didn’t shatter.

 Watch this video clip...

In this model of Earth's future, the Earth would eventually be pulled towards the sun and, in a sense, "shatter". Its matter would turn to plasma, a major part of the sun. I have shown Mars didn't lose much of its atmosphere because it shattered, it was lost because it didn't have a strong enough magnetic field to protect it in the way Earth is protected.

I found another video but it is harder for you to understand. It was made by a college student as an assignment looking at the life of the sun. At the stage where our sun becomes a red giant life would no longer be possible on Earth but we are looking billions of years into the future. In this model, it's not so much that the sun comes closer, it grows larger.

What will really happen in the Earth's future? Trying to find answers to what, how and why is the reason science is so interesting. We can observe, gather data, carry out experiments, discuss our ideas with others... When we have enough evidence, we can make an hypothesis (the next step up from an idea). If others find evidence supporting our hypothesis, it can take the next step and become a theory. Theories are the strongest ideas because they have much evidence to support them.

What's my idea about Earth's future? Perhaps when the sun starts threatening life on Earth, someone will press the reset button and the sun will return to a safer stage but that's even less likely than dealing the cards in the exact order below five times in a row. 🙂

The REALLY Mind Blowing Maths

Okay, the card maths at the beginning of this post seems mind blowing but it gave me an idea. If I was to deal out all 52 cards from a shuffled deck...

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

then shuffled the cards and asked you to deal them out in that same exact order, what would the chances be of dealing all 52 cards out one at a time in exact order without cheating or using magician tricks? Here would be the calculation...

Chance of dealing all 52 cards in an exact order = 52 x 51 x 50 x 49 x 48 x 47 x 46 x 45 x 44 x 43 x 42 x 41 x 40 x 39 x 38 x 37 x 36 x 35 x 34 x 33 x 32 x 31 x 30 x 29 x 28 x 27 x 26 x 25 x 24 x 23 x 22 x 21 x 20 x 19 x 18 x 17 x 16 x 15 x 14 x 13 x 12 x 11 x 10 x 9 x 8 x 7 x 6 x 5 x 4 x 3 x 2 x 1

and what answer did I get?

The chances are one in ~80,658,200,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,

000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000.

In maths, the tilda (~) is used to mean approximately (about).

The chances of dealing all 52 cards in an exact order is so small most would think it's impossible but I had done it the first time and, by chance, you might be able to do it but it isn't very likely.   🙂