These animals are very similar to pretty bears, and the name of the species that the Coals belong can suggest that they are relatives of clubfoot. But this is completely wrong
Charles Darwin, who visited the shores of Australia in 1836 on the Bigl ship, was extremely amazed to see the oldest representatives of mammals there, living witnesses of the evolution of species – marsupials and eggs. The habitat of these animals on Earth is estimated by scientists of 15 million years. Among a considerable number of marsupial animals living in Australia, no one, even a kangaroo that has become a national symbol of the country, can be compared in popularity with a koala.
Detachment: Drill marsupials
At first glance, the koala is very reminiscent of a toy plush bear. Perhaps, thanks to this similarity, he got his name – marsupial bear (Phascolarctos cinereus).
This typical tree resident is an extremely harmless and phlegmatic creature, having a fairly dense physique. The length of his body does not exceed 60-80, and the height is 30 cm. The weight of the so -called southern Coal reaches 11-12 kg, while the “northerners” are almost half as much, that is, not more than 5.5 kg. The fur in these animals is quite long, thick and soft, silver-fuel, sometimes with red. The tail is so short that it is almost impossible to see.
Features of the structure of the two fingers of the front and one – the hind limbs allow koalas, deeply sticking sharp claws into the bark of the trees and grabbing the branches tenaciously, slowly move from one place to another.
The habitat of these animals on Earth is evaluated by scientists of 15 million years. At the end of 2001, the Australian paleontologists were lucky enough to discover in the limestone caves of the Riversland Klinsland, the well -preserved remains of the marsupial lion (Thylacoleo), whose age has 25 million years. The last lions died out about 50 thousand years ago. Like other marsupial representatives, they carried cubs in a leather fold located on the stomach. It is they who are the direct ancestors of the current Coal.
Thick crowns of eucalyptus, reaching 100, and sometimes 150-meter height, serve for coal and asylum and house. Their odorous leaves and young shoots are the main source of nutrition, and the moisture contained in them allows Coals for weeks and even months to do without water.
The life expectancy of COAL in nature 12-13 years. Males become sexually mature by three to four years, females-to 2. Upon reaching this age, they begin to create their families.
The male, wanting to attract the attention of the female to his person, rubs about the bark of trees with a special secretory gland located on the chest in the area that is different from the rest of the skin of a brown spot (it is by its presence that males can be visually distinguished from females), as if applying a liquid secret to their wool.With a specific smell.
Then the “pouting” groom with a draft guttural “voice”, heard at a decent distance, declares his desire to marry. And since the number of adult females significantly exceeds the number of males, this unambiguous proposal usually accepts at the same time 7-8 females. So potential husbands and acquire a harem.
The female brings offspring every two years. Pregnancy lasts about 36 days. In the litter, as a rule, there is only one, extremely rarely – two cubs. Immediately after birth, the Coalanok crawls into the mother’s bag – pau than “equipped” with two nipples. In this reliable refuge, the baby lives a total of about 200 days, eating the first 13 weeks only to mother’s milk.
At the age of 22 weeks, grown animals begin to stick a muzzle out of the bag, getting acquainted with the outside world. Two weeks later, the cubs begin to cut through their teeth, which means that the mother can gradually begin to feed them with eucalyptus leaves.
From 5-6 months, the Coilentian begins to get out of the bag and, moving to the back of the parent, spends most of the time there. He finally leaves her at eight months. In rainy and cold weather, the baby presses into the warm wool of the mother, and she, hugging him tightly with her front paws, warms up on her chest.
Independence comes to the coal by about the end of the first year of life, but for at least another year they prefer to live next to their mother.
On an eucalyptus diet
A characteristic feature of eucalyptus leaves is that, regardless of the time of day, they are always turned to the sun by the edge, which significantly reduces the amount of moisture evaporated from their surface.
Fleased coals, thoroughly sorting out about 10 kg of leaves daily, choose no more than 0.5 kg for food. The body’s full -fledged assimilation of low -calorie eucalyptus leaves containing a negligible amount of proteins and nutrients occurs in the large intestine, which has a very developed, 2.5 m long casual intestines with microorganisms constantly present here.
Such, frankly, the atypical device of the digestive system allows marsupials to digest and absorb gross fibers of leaves, albeit slowly, but almost completely. It is interesting that the koals feed their own excrement with their own excrement, so that the microorganisms “living” in the cecum and helping to digest cellulose are again into the body and multiplied.
The small need for proteins is directly related to the rate of metabolic processes – it is twice as lower than the rest of the animals.
Overeating all young leaves and shoots on one tree, the koala descends to the ground, but only in order to move to another. Although sometimes they make longer transitions, for example, to a neighboring eucalyptus forest. It happens that for this they have to cross rather dangerous highways. And they do this, as, by the way, and everything else, slowly, completely slowly, risking to get under the wheels of passing cars.
The answer to the question why the sloths make such dangerous marching marks when there are other trees nearby in the immediate vicinity, which for a long time worried Australian scientists was found not so long ago. The fact is that the Coals have a special natural instinct that allows them to accurately recognize by the smell the increased content of toxic substances in the leaves of specific eucalyptus.
Two sides of the coin
These extremely slow and gullible animals became easy prey for a huge number of hunters. Only for the period from 1908 to 1927, the sake of extremely valuable fur was destroyed by 2 million individuals. Fur coats, hats and toys sewn from coal fur were not cheap, but the demand for these products grew day by day. And after 3-4 years, these animals were on the verge of extinction.
Thanks to the active campaign to protect them in 1930, a decree was issued that prohibited the hunt for. National Wild Parks were also created. The first of them were Koala Park, located near Sydney, as well as the Loun-Pine reserve near Brisben. It was there that koalas began to live under reliable protection of the law.
However, today the problem of preserving these Australian endemicians has again gained relevance. The fact is that the coals, preferring the flat climate, always settled along the ocean coast, and the same territories were chosen by people. As a result, it turned out that over the past 200 years, 80% of all eucalyptus forests in which the Coals once lived were destroyed. Such an active attack on the kingdom of the Coal of civilization slowly but surely survives these animals from the usual habitats.
Small islands not populated by people scattered near the mainland become almost the only refuge for these poor fellows.
At the same time, this problem has a flip side. The active measures taken by the Australians to restore the number of these unique marsupial bears led to a very significant increase in their number, which could soon turn out to be a new tragedy – despite the fact that eucalyptus can grow in 4 years by 12 meters, there are so few of them, there are so few.that for the food of the Coal of these trees is clearly not enough now.
It would seem easier to allow them to eliminate a certain number by shooting, but activists of the Coal salvation Fund, in which about 20 thousand people from several countries of the world take part, categorically against such measures. They see the only way out of this impasse in a significant expansion of eucalyptus forest planting zones.
In the meantime, biologists who proposed sterilization of animals have taken up the case. Caul birth rate taken under control has now allowed to increase the amount of food per one animal. Let’s hope that this intervention in the affairs of nature is a temporary phenomenon that will allow to preserve this sweet and slightly funny creature for descendants.
Currently, the position of the Coal in Australia has noticeably aggravated. The population of these animals decreased in 2020 due to forest fires raging in the country. In 2022, the country’s authorities recognized the Coal with an endangered look.