How the kangaroos got their name
Nowhere on earth can one meet such a variety of marsupial animals as in Australia. There are 250 species of them, 170 of which – marsupial badgers, kangaroos, wombats – are endemic, live only in Australia. Judging by the fossil remains, they appeared here 25 million years ago. The largest marsupials are gray and red kangaroos. An adult male, called a boomer, is about 2 meters tall, weighs about 90 kilograms. It runs 12-15 miles per hour, and if necessary increases speed to 40 miles. A gray kangaroo is also distinguished by a jump height of up to 3.3 meters, and a red kangaroo with a jump length of up to 13.5 meters. Moreover, neither one nor the other do not use any dope. A good example, by the way …
There are few animals on earth that arouse such curiosity as a kangaroo. Proud posture, agile front legs, slender and elongated hind legs, a prancing mode of movement, which, in fact, is his famous gait, and many other special qualities distinguish the kangaroo from the animal kingdom.
With his front legs he brings beauty with human agility – he brushes his coat, and if necessary, defends himself deftly, like a boxer. But the real strength of this outlandish animal is given by the elongated hind legs. On a walk, going from a slow run in four to racing in two, the kangaroo becomes graceful, like a ballerina. He runs as he flies, is in the air much longer than on earth. The experiments showed that at high speed on two legs, no more energy is spent than at low speed on four.
Shy and even shy by nature, the kangaroo shows a lot of strength and resourcefulness in the battle with the enemy. He has his own arsenal of self-defense techniques. Australians usually hunt kangaroos with trained dogs. In a hopeless situation, the animal driven into a dead end rises to the tip of its powerful tail and hits the stalker with dagger-like claws of its hind legs. If there is water nearby, the kangaroo uses even more unexpected tactics. He takes a deep breath, suddenly grabs the attacking dog and dives with it into the water. And he does this until the dog dies. And although she is a tried and tested friend of man, sympathy in this situation, apparently, should nevertheless be a kangaroo, which is forced to defend itself …
Their life is hard. It feeds, grows and protects the mother. After four or five weeks of pregnancy (depending on the species), the female usually has a single offspring. Before giving birth, the female licks her bag on her stomach, puts it in order. It is amazing how a blind newborn baby finds a path among her thick maternal fur to her bag, where, instinct tells, there are nipples with warm milk.
A bean-sized kangaroo will be born, and grows taller than a person. But this is not the most surprising. The most amazing thing is that a pregnant female can, if necessary, delay the birth: in this case, a kangaroo ready to be born as if freezes in her womb, does not appear until all the conditions for its development are ready.
It’s not easy to see a kangaroo, even a large one. He grazes at night, sleeps during the day, hiding in tall grass, in a bush, in the thick of eucalyptus trees. An eagle, a python, a wild dingo dog – everyone preys on kangaroos, and a man kills an adult kangaroo, as we remember. But his worst enemy is drought. When streams and rivers dry up, grass and bushes dry up, all kangaroos die, and adults cease to interbreed.
Fortunately, nature has endowed this animal with tolerance to feed: no one eats what a kangaroo can eat. One day, a naturalist caught a kangaroo to take a picture of him and let him go. He was so sad that the scientist put up a cardboard box with salad and fruit in front of him to lift his spirits. The kid gratefully accepted this gift, but disposed of it in his own way: he refused the salad and fruits and ate a box.
A curious story of the origin of the name of the kangaroo, possibly mythical. James Cook, who “discovered” Australia a second time, wrote in his diary in 1770 about a “strange creature that gallops on its hind legs like a jumping mouse.” He asked the natives what the name of this strange creature is called. Those answered: “Ken ge roo.” From here came the name of these animals, which became the symbol of Australia. And already modern linguists have established that in the language of the natives this expression meant: “I do not understand you.”
European settlers in Australia soon became convinced that the kangaroo has not only tasty meat, but also a valuable skin, from which beautiful and durable products can be made. Four species of kangaroos since the settlement of the Fifth continent have been completely exterminated. Between 1870 and 1917, 26 million animals were killed. In essence, it was a real genocide, transferred to the animal world!
These animals had many problems at a later time. More recently, any hunter in Australia could have killed as many kangaroos as he wanted. However, now many of their species, which are on the verge of extinction, are listed in the Red Book.