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Unusual facts about Australia
Old 7th March 2010, 11:59 PM   #1
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* Mungo man - In 1974, scientists discovered the Mungo man - a primate who was ritually buried 40-60,000 years ago with his hands covering his penis. ANU's John Curtin School of Medical Research found that the skeleton's genetic material contained a small section of mitochondrial DNA. It was analysed and compared to the genetic material from nearly 3,500 people; including Neanderthals, Asians, ancient Aborigines, and present-day Aborigines. It was found that Mungo Man's DNA lacked a gene that was common to all the other samples. Consequently, unlike every other known person on the planet, or unearthed skeleton, Mungo man can not be traced to humans that left Africa any time in the last 200,000 years.

*Robust - The first humans travelled across the sea from Indonesia about 70,000 years ago. These people are called 'Robust' by archaeologists because of their heavy-boned physique.

*Gracile - 50, 000 years ago, the more slender 'Gracile' people; the ancestors of Australian Aborigines, arrived in Australia. At the time of their settlement/invasion, the Gracile were the most technologically advanced people in the world.

*Tasmanian Aborigine - The Tasmanian Aborigine was of a different race to those on the mainland with features more similar to Africans. No full bloods live today.

*Convicts of African descent - Convicts comprised many different racial groups and many of these minority racial groups were very prominent in colonial society. Australia's first bushranger was a Convict of African descent. Another African Convict was arguably Sydney's first eccentrics as he walked around in a top hat and tails.

*Gold Rush - During the Gold rush of the 1850's, Australia received massive waves of migration from China, America, Canada, Germany, Italy, France, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, England. An Italian migrant named 'Raefello Carboni' subsequently led the Eureka Rebellion.

*People: 92% Caucasian descent, 7% Asian descent, 1% Aboriginal descent.

*Post World War II - From 1945 through 1996, nearly 5.5 million immigrants settled in Australia.

*Four out of 10 Australians are migrants or the first-generation children of migrants.

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Old 8th March 2010, 12:03 AM   #2
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*Waltzing Matilda - 'Waltzing Matilda' the title of Australia's most famous song, is German for 'carrying a backpack'.

*Bludger - Australians refer to lazy people as 'bludgers'. The word is derived from 'bludgeoner' which is a prostitute's standover man.

*Larrikin - A larrikin is a comical, roguish individual who is prone to rowdy and unruly behaviour. The term was coined from an Irish policeman in a Melbourne court, claiming the prisoner was "larkin about".

*POME - Australians refer to English people as Poms or Pome. This is an acronym for Prisoners of Mother England. May have originally been an abbreviation for pomegranate which is Convict rhyming slang for immigrant.

*The name Australia comes from the Latin Terra Australis Incognito which means the Unknown Southern Land.

*Seppo - Australians may refer to Americans as 'Seppos'. This is an abbreviation for 'Septic Tank' which is rhyming slang for 'Yank'.

*Drongo - Australians may refer to fools, idiots and hopeless cases as Drongos. Drongo was a 1920's racehorse that showed promise but never won anything in 37 starts. In the 1940s, the term was applied to recruits of the Australian airforce.

*Digger - Australian servicemen are referred to as Diggers. This term comes from miners on the Australian goldfields of the 1800's.

*Kangaroo - The name for the Australian marsupial Kangaroo came about when some of the first white settlers saw this strange animal hopping along and they asked the Aborigines what it was called. They replied with 'Kanguru', which in the native language meant 'I don't know' .

*Moomba - The city of Melbourne has a cultural festival using the Aboriginal word Moomba. It seems the festival's initial organisers asked the local Aborigines to suggest a name, and were told that moomba means 'lets get together and have fun.' The grateful organisers subsequently used the name. (In hindsight, the organisers really should have been suspicious that 'lets get together and have fun' could be expressed in two syllables. In reality, 'moom' means 'bum', 'buttocks', or 'anus', while the suffix 'ba' means 'in', 'at' or 'on'. So moomba actually means 'in the bum.' )

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Old 8th March 2010, 12:06 AM   #3
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Mysteries

*Stolen baby - On August 17, 1980, Lindy Chamberlain, the wife of a Church minister, told authorities that a dingo took her baby Azaria from their campsite near Uluru. Curiously, the Australian public was more inclined to place faith in the character of a wild dog rather than in a minister's wife and as a consequence, Lindy was convicted of murder. Some years later, her conviction was quashed yet still, some Australians are adamant that the dingo was innocent.

*Dropbears - Dropbears are an evil species of koala that fall from trees and attack humans. The evil strain of koala don't actually exist. The story was created to fool Americans.

*Yowies- Like the Nth American big foot, the yowie emits a vile odour and screams offensively. Numerous sightings of Yowies have turned out to be escaped mental patients or hermits in jungle attire.

*Lost Prime Minister - In 1967, Harold Holt, the Prime Minister of Australia went for a swim at the beach and was never seen again. Theories about his disappearance include kidnapping by a Russian submarine, eaten by a shark or being carried away by the tide.

*Bunyips - Bunyips haunt rivers, swamps, creeks and billabongs. Their main goal in life is to cause nocturnal terror by eating people or animals in their vicinity. They are renowned for their terrifying bellowing cries in the night and have been known to frighten Aborigines to the point where they would not approach any water source where a Bunyip might be waiting to devour them. Some scientists believe the Bunyip was a real animal, the diprotodon, extinct for some 20,000 years.

*Megafauna - 20-30 thousand years ago, Australia was home to Megafauna; giant species of marsupials including a wombat the size of a rhino, meat eating kangaroos, kangaroos three meat tall and lizards 7 meters long. It is not known exactly what happened to them. One theory is that were hunted to extinction by Aborigines or that the Aborigines use of fire destroyed their habitat. Another theory is their habitat was destroyed by the progressive drying of Australia.

*The Bradshaws - The Australian Kimberley is home to a mysterious form of rock art known as the Bradshaws. The art is dispersed in around 100 000 sites spread over 50 000 sq. km. Although the art's pigment can't be dated, a fossilised wasp nest covering one of the paintings has been dated at 17,000 + years old. This makes the art at least four times older than the pyramids.

The Bradshaws depict people with straight hair and poney tails. One painting even depicts a boat, with a rudder, and 29 people on board. Unlike other Aboriginal art, it is not known what purpose the Bradshaw paintings served. Graham Walsh, the foremost expert on them, has suggested that they might be a form of iconography(picture writing) painted by a now extinct Asiastic race.

*Marree man - In 1998, a huge engraving of a Aboriginal warrior appeared in the Australian outback. It was 4km long, held a throwing stick, was bearded and had a penis which was estimated to be 200m in length. The markings appeared to have been made by a tractor pulling some sort of plough which created furrows 10m wide in the difficult terrain. To this day, the artist is a mystery.

*Phar lap - Phar Lap was Australia's greatest race horse winning 37 of his 51 starts. After handicappers saddled him with enough weight to stop a train, his owner took him overseas to race in America. He easily won his first race but then died in mysterious circumstances.

* Mungo man - In 1974, scientists discovered the Mungo man - a primate who was ritually buried 40-60,000 years ago with his hands covering his penis. ANU's John Curtin School of Medical Research found that the skeleton's genetic material contained a small section of mitochondrial DNA. It was analysed and compared to the genetic material from nearly 3,500 people; including Neanderthals, Asians, ancient Aborigines, and present-day Aborigines. It was found that Mungo Man's DNA lacked a gene that was common to all the other samples. Consequently, unlike every other known person on the planet, or unearthed skeleton, Mungo man can not be traced to humans that left Africa any time in the last 200,000 years.

Mungo Man's unique DNA has been used to challenge the 'out of Africa' theory of human evolution.

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Old 8th March 2010, 12:08 AM   #4
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Natural Environment

*The Australian Lyre Bird is the world's best imitator; able to mimic the calls of 15 different species of birds in their locality and string the calls into a melody. Also been known to mimic the sound mobile phones.

*The echidna is such a unique animal that it is classified in a special class of mammals known as monotremes, which it shares only with the platypus. The echidna lays eggs like a duck but suckles its young in a pouch like a kangaroo. For no apparent reason, it may decide to conserve energy by dropping its body temperature to 4 degrees and remain at that temperature from 4 to 120 days. Lab experiments have shown that the echidna is more intelligent that a cat and it has been seen using its spikes, feet and beaks to climb up crevices like a mountaineer edging up a rock chimney.

*Purple wallaby - The Purple-neck Rock Wallaby [Petrogale Purpureicollis], inhabits the Mt Isa region in Northwest Queensland. The Wallaby secretes a dye that transforms its face and neck into colours ranging from light pink to bright purple.

*The Fierce Snake or Inland Taipan has the most toxic venom of any snake. Maximum yield recorded (for one bite) is 110mg. That would probably be enough to kill over 100 people or 250,000 mice.

*The Wombat deposits square poos on logs, rocks and even upright sticks that it uses tomark its territory.

*A 10kg Tasmanian Devil is able to exert the same biting pressure as a 40kg dog. It can also eat almost a third of its body weight in a single feeding.

*Australia is the smallest, flattest, and driest inhabited continent in the world. It is the only country which is also a whole continent.

*Over 90% of Australia is dry, flat and arid. Almost three-quarters of the land cannot support agriculture in any form.

*A baby kangaroo at the time of its birth measures 2 centimetres.

*Kangaroos need very little water to survive and are capable of going for months without drinking at all. When they do need water, they dig 'wells' for themselves; frequently going as deep as three or four feet. These 'kangaroo pits' are a common source of water for other animals living in the kangaroo's environment.

*A kangaroo being chased by a dog may jump into a dam. If the dog gives chase, the kangaroo may turn towards the dog, then use its paws to push the dogs head underwater in order to drown it.

*Emus and kangaroos cannot walk backwards, and are on the Australian coat of arms for that reason.

*A monotreme is a animal that lays eggs and suckles its young. The world's only monotremes are the platypus and the echidna.

*The male platypus has a poisonous spine that can kill a dog and inflict immense pain on a human.

*When a specimen of the platypus was first sent to England, it was believed the Australians had played a joke by sewing the bill of a duck onto a rat.

*Box Jelly fish - The box jellyfish is considered the world's most venomous marine creature. The box jellyfish has killed more people in Australia than stonefish, sharks and crocodiles combined.

*The Sydney Funnelweb spider is considered the world's most deadly spider. It is the only spider that has killed people in less than 2 hours. Its fangs are powerful enough to bite through gloves and fingernails. The only animals without immunity to the funnelweb's venom are humans and monkeys.

*Lung fish - Queensland is home to lung fish, a living fossil from the Triassic period 350 million years ago

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Old 8th March 2010, 12:16 AM   #5
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What about the following strange facts:

Australia has Over 6,000 Species of Flies

6000 species of fly, with of course the house fly being the most common, followed closely by the larger blowfly of various types, otherwise known as the "blowie". This is the reason for the now famous "Aussie Salute", a quick flick of the hand across the face to discharge the annoying little insects.

The Aussie salute, as well as the flies, is noticed more in regional areas of the country. Flies are prevalent in the cities as well but many of them prefer the quieter more laid back country lifestyle.

Flies have also been credited with affecting Aussie fashion. Up until the 1960's the Australian Cork hat worn as a fly deterrant achieved almost iconic status.

The fly has also had an influence on the cuisine of Australians. Due to the problems associated with keeping flies off meat, jerky, salami and other hung sausage meats never really took off. This resulted in oils and brine solutions becoming the preferred forms of preserving meat.


The Largest Wild Population of Single Humped Camels

Not just the largest population of wild single humped camels (dromedaries), they are the only herds of dromedaries in the world exhibiting wild behaviour. Todays Australian camels are the feral descendants of the camels brought to Australia since the 1840's.

Camels were originally imported for their obvious use as transport animals, especially in the more arid regions of the country. Eventually this led to a camel breeding industry and for a period the beasts were highly valued.

With the advent of more efficient forms of mechanical transport in the 1900's, the value of camels plummetted and many of them were simply abandoned by breeders and handlers who could no longer afford to keep them.

Today the feral camels are thriving in the outback conditions and although considered a pest it has not yet become clear how much of a danger they may be to native flora and fauna. The camels feed on vegetation that is disliked by native animals and their large padded feet do not contribute to soil erosion. It has been suggested that camels may have filled the biological niche once populated by the extinct diprotodon, a large herbivorous marsupial. The population of feral camels is estimated to be around 1,000,000 animals.

There is now an emerging export market for Australian camels where some are used as breeding stock for Arabian racing camels. The meat of wild camels is also considered to be a delicacy in some countries.

Wombat poop is square

Actually cubicle would be a better description. Wombats use their poop to mark their territory and because of the shape it does not easily roll away. Dried wombat poop can be used as a dice.

Why is Australia Called "The Lucky Country"?

During the it's pioneering years Australia was seen to be a land of opportunity for newcomers to the country. Large temperate areas were ideal for farmers. Discoveries of rich mineral deposits promised riches for thousands of miners who travelled to Australia from all countries.

Today the mining industry still makes up a large part of the country's GDP. Australia is the worlds largest exporter of iron ore and the largest producer of bauxite from which aluminium is extracted. The country also has the largest deposits of zinc, silver and zircon. Australia produces around 10% of the world's gold resources and 40% of uranium.

The Worlds Largest Cattle Station (or Ranch)

The Anna Creek cattle station in the South Australian Outback is by far the largest working cattle station (ranch) in the world. It covers a huge area of some 34,000 square kilometres. This makes the station bigger than the country of Belgium. By comparison, the largest ranch in the USA is around 6,000 square kilometres.

The ranch has a carrying capacity of 16,000 head of cattle but due to the extended drought in Australia this has currently been reduced to less than 2,000 head.

Australian Snow Fields Receive More Snow Than Switzerland

Surprised? Every winter the Australian Alps have more snow cover than Switzerland. The Alps (or "Snowy Mountains")are part of the Great Dividing Range on the eastern side of the country. The Great Dividing Range stretches over 3,500 kilometers and runs from north to south through the states of Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria.

The snowfields are an important feature for Australian tourism. When it's summer in the northen hemisphere, it's winter in Australia. The snowfields are an important part of the local tourism industry. Thousands of visitors from the Northen Hemisphere come to enjoy the skiing and other winter activites on the Aussie snowfields.
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Old 1st August 2010, 09:33 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sheelagh Blanckenberg View Post
What about the following strange facts:

Australia has Over 6,000 Species of Flies

6000 species of fly, with of course the house fly being the most common, followed closely by the larger blowfly of various types, otherwise known as the "blowie". This is the reason for the now famous "Aussie Salute", a quick flick of the hand across the face to discharge the annoying little insects.

The Aussie salute, as well as the flies, is noticed more in regional areas of the country. Flies are prevalent in the cities as well but many of them prefer the quieter more laid back country lifestyle.

Flies have also been credited with affecting Aussie fashion. Up until the 1960's the Australian Cork hat worn as a fly deterrant achieved almost iconic status.

The fly has also had an influence on the cuisine of Australians. Due to the problems associated with keeping flies off meat, jerky, salami and other hung sausage meats never really took off. This resulted in oils and brine solutions becoming the preferred forms of preserving meat.

The flies are really a nuisance but far worse are the red back and funnel web spiders and all those poisonous snakes. And goannas in our back yard - I hates all those creepy crawlies.
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Old 6th August 2010, 03:49 PM   #7
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The flies are a pain.

You get used to the other creepy crawlies though :-) .

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