Vertebrate fauna of Wallacea and surrounds

18 The plains of New South Wales

The following excerpt describing some of the mammals and birds of Australia is from Wallace (1876) The Geographical Distribution of Animals. Chapter XIII. The Australian Region, p. 442:

“A large kangaroo (Macropus giganteus) is seen in the distance; and passing through the air, a flying opossum (Petaurus sciureus), a beautiful modification of a marsupial, so as to resemble in form and habits the flying squirrels of the northern hemisphere.”

Or maybe the flying squirrels are trying to emulate the marsupial gliders?

“The most conspicuous figure is the wonderful lyre-bird (Menura superba), the elegant plumage of whose tail is altogether unique in the whole class of birds. The unadorned bird is the female. In the centre is the emu (Dromœus novœ-hollandiœ), the representative in Australia, of the ostrich in Africa and America, but belonging to a different family, the Casurariidæ. To the right are a pair of crested pigeons (Ocyphaps lophotes), one of the many singular forms of the pigeon family to which the Australian region gives birth…. The large bird on the tree is one of the Australian frog-mouthed goat-suckers (Podargus strigoides), which are called in the colony “More-pork,” from their peculiar cry.”

Note: Wallace was a little confused on this last point – the Tawny Frogmouth Podargus strigoides makes a low ‘oom oom’ noise; the ‘more-pork’ or ‘mopoke’ call is made by the Boobook Owl Ninox novaeseelandiae.
Plate XII. The Plains of New South Wales, with Characteristic Animals. From The Geographical Distribution of Animals (1876).
Plate XII. The Plains of New South Wales, with Characteristic Animals. From The Geographical Distribution of Animals (1876).

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  • Plate XII The Plains of New South Wales © A.R. Wallace is licensed under a Public Domain license

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