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Sunday, January 22, 2012

Australia and New Zealand - the biological missing links

Australia is famous for its seemingly biological missing links - the marsupials and monotremes. Although they may look like cute and fuzzy mammals their mode of reproduction is as alien as it gets. Marsupials have no placenta and the embryo is born much less than half formed, then it climbs into a pouch where the mammary glands are.

Imagine if we had human like marsupials? No water to break and child birth would be much easier and probably much less painful. Babies would come out as worm like embryos and attach themselves to the mammary glands which would be covered in a pouch. So the nipples would be permanently covered by a flap of skin, which would be mommy pouch. Chances are men would have flaps over their nipples too, but it would be vestigial. And a few months later when the baby's eyes open up, the child would poke it head out of mom's boobie pouch. Kinda' wierd, but that's how the marsupials do it.

Even better if humans reproduced like monotremes which include the platypus and echidna. Mom would lay the egg and both parents could take turns sitting on the eggs. And junior would hatch out, when the time was right. Basically monotremes are thought to be a kind of biological missing link, whereby they are a remnant transitional species before rise of placental mammals as virtual 'egg laying mammals.' Eventually the non egg laying mammals took over and gave monotremes the pink slip all over the world so we think, except for down under. Monotremes are like a lost species in between the lizard and placental mammal.

In New Zealand the biological wonders are the humble ferns. Ferns don't produce flowers, rather like animals and insects, part of their procreative cycle includes sperm. Plants usually produce pollen. But oddly ferns like grampi and daddy produce sperm.

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