In the forests of Tasmania there are strange creatures as the black swan, white cockatoo, giant nightjar, gray kangaroos ...
Tasmania is an island covered in dense rainforest, where, among the abrupt rises and falls of the landscape, hide creatures which, in the majority of cases exist nowhere else on the planet.
A zoological paradise, with numerous national parks, three of which are considered World Heritage Sites.
The first colonists to arrive in these lands were amazed at the strange appearance of all the animals – even the swans were black, rather than the white ones they were used to hunting back in Europe.
There is a large population of black swans in continental Australia, Tasmania and New Zealand, where they were introduced by man.
Weighing almost nine kilos, and with a wingspan of nearly two metres, this male leaves us in no doubt that this is his territory.
Everywhere the strange creatures, like the Cape Barren goose, were evidence that this world was quite unlike anything they had seen before.
Each type of forest, every branch, has its specialists, who have evolved to best exploit the resources of the island. Isolation has made it possible to develop exclusive designs, adapted to particular ecological niches. The white cockatoo eats fruits, while the black, yellow–tailed cockatoo devours insect larvae, taking the place of the woodpeckers, which don’t exist here. Now he’s feeding his almost fully grown chick.
Apart from the bright colours, some birds look very familiar.
However, in the interior of the rainforests, hide others, of less conventional appearance.
The giant nightjar, or frogmouth, spends its days imitating a broken branch. And that’s discreet if we compare it with the flaming colours of the cockatoos.
But the real evolutionary winners on this island are a family of mammals which came to Australia from the forests of Gondwana.
Free from the predators of the outside world, the marsupials, like these grey kangaroos were able to diversify here in Australia. Almost all their close relatives who remained in America were devoured by the powerful enemies who invaded from the north.
Here, in safety, the marsupials have been able to conserve their own particular means of reproduction: a short gestation, and protective pouches in which they hide their young.
Mothers with balconies, whose children do not want to leave home.
Australia and Tasmania are now home to so may types of marsupial, that they have adapted to all environments, and all levels of the ecological pyramid; here marsupials occupy all those places where, in the rest of the world, we would find mammals with placentas.
This is proof that similar conditions and needs create morphologically similar forms: evolutionary convergence.
Without this, the kangaroos would be the equivalent of the deer in the northern hemisphere.
These many thousands of years of separate evolution gave this animal a different role from that of our badgers: this is the wombat.
Chubby and cute looking, the wombat also has its marsupial’s pouch, though with the opening at the back, so it doesn’t get full of soil when it digs. The first reports of them were brought back following a shipwreck, and they were described as a “kind of wild pig”.