Kids Page Invertebrate link to the dinosaurs!

Hi and Happy New Year. I hope that you were able to collect some of the Flindersia sp. seed-pods over the Christmas period for sowing, growing and turning into great Christmas decorations - and boats!

Invertebrate link to the dinosaurs!

When you were in the forest or in your garden over the holidays you may have noticed some of our flying, crawling, worming and squirming invertebrate (animals without a backbone) friends. The recent rains have assisted in an explosion of invertebrate species, so you may have even seen many in your house! Some examples of invertebrates are Worms, Slugs and Snails, Arachnids (Spiders), and Insects (beetles, cockroaches, silverfish, termites, grasshoppers, ant-lions, lacewings, bugs, stick insects, bees, wasps and ants, moths and butterflies).

Did you know that many of the animals we live with in the Wet Tropics demonstrate links to the past - and invertebrates are among some of the best examples. They provide evidence of linked continents, such as Sphaenogathus - a special stag beetle found high on Mt Windsor and Mt Lewis in the Wet Tropics; an almost identical beetle has also been found in Chile in South America at similar latitudes (angular distances from the equator) and altitudes (heights).

Or they act as links between groups of modern animals. The Peripatus (velvet worm) is a modern link between worms and arthropods. The Peripatus has a soft, segmented body like a worm but also has walking legs, antennae and a tracheal breathing system like insects, spiders and other members of the arthropod group. All arthropods have a hard outer skin with flexible joints, segmented bodies and paired limbs. The largest group of these creatures are the insects.

Queensland - The Butterfly State!

With the flowers and fruit about recently there have been a number of our most beautiful insects fluttering about. Butterflies are one of the many invertebrate species that are found in the Wet Tropics. Queensland has more butterflies than any other State in Australia. Of the 385 known species (different kinds) in Australia about 330 (86%) occur in Queensland. The tropics are home to 300 species, 136 of which are only found in the tropics. The abundance of flowers, fruit and foliage (leaves) in the Wet Tropics, all important resources for butterflies and their larval stage (caterpillars), help to make it home to a diversity of species. Lucky us! The Wet Tropics is also home to the largest moth in the World, the Hercules moth with a wingspan reported of up to 36cm.

Butterflies are considered by scientists to be more evolutionary advanced than some other insects because they go through a complete metamorphosis from caterpillar to pupae to butterfly.

Wildlife of Ancient Australia by Harry Breidahl.

2002. Macmillan Education Australia. South Yarra.

Now you can find out more about the dinosaurs that we had in Australia. This is a fantastic series and it is available in the Atherton library. Each volume details the various time periods throughout evolution and uses examples of Ancient Australian flora and fauna.

Information sourced from Tropical Topics - EPA No.37, 1996 and Australian Tropical Butterflies by Peter Valentine. 1991.

By Peta Standley

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