Animals like in Australia – why?
The fauna of New Guinea is closely related to that of Australia. Up until 10,000 years ago – the end of the last ice age – the Australian continent was still connected with New Guinea. Only then did the water level rise worldwide and flood the lowlands between Australia and New Guinea.
Many animals in New Guinea are endemic species that only occur there. As in Australia, you will find egg-laying mammals such as the long-billed hedgehog and many species of marsupials. The kangaroos in New Guinea live on trees and are therefore also called tree kangaroos. The marsupial also includes the couscous as well as the pouch martens, pouch mice and the cute wallabies. The monitor lizards, which are still reminiscent of the prehistoric fauna, also live in many different species in New Guinea.
Diversity of bird life
The island is best known for its variety of bird species. It is worth mentioning the birds of paradise, which are found here in 36 species and also adorn the flag and coat of arms of the country. Despite the diversity of this animal species, the bird of paradise is now threatened with extinction. The bower bird is related to the bird of paradise.
Also rare are the cassowaries, which can be up to 1.70 meters tall and are part of the emus, the largest ratite bird living in Australia. The cassowaries cannot fly either.
Only in Papua New Guinea can you find the crowned pigeons, which incidentally live on the ground and are among the largest pigeons. They are not difficult to recognize because they have a hood on their head. Although they live on the ground, they do incubate their eggs in nests in the trees.
The beak hedgehog lives at altitudes up to 3000 meters. It has a long and flat tail and its characteristic beak, which is flat, wide and very sensitive. You can still see webbed feet on the paws. The beaked hedgehog eats worms, snails, but also crabs and mussels. The male has poisonous spines on its hind paws. The female nurses the hatched eggs. The beak hedgehog is related to the Australian platypus.
Where does the largest butterfly in the world live?
The largest butterfly in the world, the Queen Alexandra bird butterfly with a wingspan of 30 centimeters, also lives in New Guinea. The butterfly was named after Queen Alexandra, wife of King Edward VII of England.
It was first discovered in Papua New Guinea in 1906. Many collectors covet this species, which is why it is one of the endangered species. The plantation of palm oil plantations in particular has caused the number to decline sharply.
A blind loft and a special dolphin
Animal species live in New Guinea that are still completely unexplored. Between 1998 and 2008, an average of two new species were found there every day and in the end more than 1,000 different species. But we don’t even know which treasures the rainforests and mountain forests hold.
A snake was also discovered that is no more than 14 centimeters long, and is also blind and non-toxic. A new species of dolphin has also been discovered, the snub-fin dolphin, which was first found in the New Guinea estuaries in 2005. Sometimes you will also find the name “pubby fin dolphin”. Incidentally, the fin is the dorsal fin of dolphins or sharks. This dolphin is probably related to the also very rare Irrawaddy dolphin. The snub fin dolphin lives in northern Australia and the waters of New Guinea. There is also a river shark, which is also extremely rare.
Many animal species are seriously threatened
Many New Guinea animal species are likely to disappear before we even discover them. In New Guinea, too, the plantation economy with its monocultures is increasingly displacing the original flora and fauna and depriving them of their important habitat. The destruction of the rainforest by mostly foreign companies also destroys the animal world that is struggling to survive in the rainforest.
Poisonous animals also live in Papua New Guinea and arguably the most poisonous is the inland taipan. This is a type of snake. Anyone who is bitten by this snake has little chance of surviving in the lonely jungle. An antidote could help, but it can take hours, if not days, to reach a doctor in Papua New Guinea.
Cone snails, mostly buried in the mud, are also poisonous, with fatalities rarely occurring. There are also many poisonous animals such as the scorpion fish in the sea around New Guinea. Sea snakes, which are not that rare, are also very poisonous.
Colorful underwater world
The underwater world of Papua New Guinea attracts many divers, the coral reefs are among the most beautiful in the world. From large manta rays and hammerheads to rays and tuna to the colorful rainbow fish, the underwater fauna here is extremely colorful and diverse.
What is growing there in Papua New Guinea?
70 percent of the country is forest. In the lower elevations, the rainforest determines the vegetation – there are 18 different types of rainforest here – in the higher elevations the mountain forest.
In addition, there are marshlands on the coast with extensive and varied swamp and mangrove forests. Coconut palms also shape the landscape on the coast. In the savannahs and drier areas of Papua New Guinea you will find eucalyptus forests and acacias.