|Papua New Guinea (PNG; Tok Pisin: Papua Niugini), officially
the Independent State of Papua New Guinea, is a country in Oceania,
occupying the eastern half of the island of New Guinea and numerous
offshore islands (the western portion of the island is a part
Indonesian provinces of Papua and West Papua). It is located in
the southwestern Pacific Ocean, in a region defined since the
19th century as Melanesia. The capital is Port Moresby.
Papua New Guinea is one of the most culturally diverse countries
on Earth, with over 850 indigenous languages and at least as many
traditional societies, out of a population of just under seven
million. (No, we are not going to describe all those different
here, but we will try to give you an impression of the country's
fauna.) It is also one of the most rural, as only 18% of its
live in urban centres. The country is one of the world's least
explored, culturally and geographically, and many undiscovered
of plants and animals are thought to exist in the interior of
Papua New Guinea.
of Melanesia, with the volcanoes of Papua.
At 462,840 km2 (178,704 sq mi), Papua New Guinea is the world's
fifty-fourth largest country. Including all its islands, it lies
between latitudes 0° and 12°S, and longitudes 140°
The country's geography is diverse and, in places, extremely rugged.
A spine of mountains, the New Guinea Highlands, runs the length
of the island of New Guinea, forming a populous highlands region
mostly covered with tropical rainforest. Dense rainforests can
found in the lowland and coastal areas as well as very large wetland
areas surrounding the Sepik and Fly rivers. This terrain has made
it difficult for the country to develop transportation infrastructure.
In some areas, airplanes are the only mode of transport.
The highest peak is Mount Wilhelm at 4,509 metres. Papua New Guinea
is surrounded by coral reefs which are under close watch.
The country is situated on the Pacific Ring of Fire, at the point
of collision of several tectonic plates. There are a number of
active volcanoes, and eruptions are frequent. Earthquakes are
relatively common, sometimes accompanied by tsunamis.
volcano, November 28th, 2004, 18.00 local time
Some of those volcanoes are described on our pages, as Manam,
and the eruption, Pago,
Langila (on New Britain). Unfortunately only the two
first articles are in english, the others in norwegian, but
pictures are to be understood anyway.....
The mainland of the country is the eastern half of New Guinea
island, where the largest towns are also located, including the
Port Moresby and Lae; other major islands within Papua New Guinea
include New Ireland, New Britain, Manus and Bougainville.
Papua New Guinea is one of the few regions close to the equator
that experiences snowfall, which occurs in the most elevated parts
of the mainland.
The Admiralty Islands are a group of eighteen islands in
the Bismarck Archipelago, to the north of New Guinea in the south
Ocean. These are also sometimes called the Manus Islands, after
the largest island. These rainforest-covered islands form part
Manus Province, the smallest and least-populous province of Papua
New Guinea. The total area is 2,100 km2 (810 sq mi).
Many of the islands are atolls and uninhabited.
Due to the isolated location, the rain forests of the Admiralty
Islands are home to rare and endemic species of birds, bats and
other animals and are considered a separate ecoregion, the Admiralty
Islands lowland rain forests. The majority of the forests on Manus
still remain, but some of the smaller islands have been cleared
for coconut farming. The typical tree species are various Calophyllum
and Sararanga species
Pitta, Pitta superba
Superb Pitta, Pitta superba, is a large pitta, approximately
22cm long. It has black plumage with turquoise
blue wings, a scarlet belly and green-tipped secondaries.
Both sexes are almost similar. The female is a slightly
smaller and duller than the male.
bird-of-paradise - overview
Video: ABC Library Sales,
Melbourne. Audio: BBC Natural History Sound Library
The Blue Bird-of-paradise, Paradisaea rudolphi,
is a medium-sized bird-of-paradise.
Regarded by some ornithologists as the loveliest of all
birds, the Blue Bird-of-paradise was discovered by
Carl Hunstein in 1884. The scientific name commemorates
the ill-fated Crown Prince Rudolf of Austria.
Due to ongoing habitat loss, limited range, small population
size and hunting in some areas for its highly prized
plumes, the rare Blue Bird-of-paradise is classified as
Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
Three of the bird species endemic to Admiralty Islands have been
listed as vulnerable in the IUCN Red List:
Manus Fantail, Rhipidura semirubra, Superb Pitta,
Pitta superba and Manus Masked Owl, Tyto manusi.
Three other birds are
endemic to Admiralty Islands but are classified as non-threatened
or least concern: White-naped Friarbird, Philemon albitorques,
Manus Monarch, Monarcha infelix and Manus Hawk Owl, Ninox
meeki. Birds found mainly but not exclusively on the Admiralty
Islands include Melanesian Megapode, Megapodius
eremita, Yellow-bibbed Fruit-dove, Ptilinopus
solomonensis, Yellowish Imperial-pigeon, Ducula subflavescens,
Pied Cuckoo-dove, Reinwardtoena browni, Meek's Pygmy
Parrot, Micropsitta meeki, Black-headed White-eye,
Zosterops hypoxanthus and Ebony Myzomela, Myzomela pammelaena.
Fruit-dove, Ptilinopus solomonensis
Order: Columbiformes, Family: Columbidae, Genus:
Ptilinopus, Species: Ptilinopus solomonensis
Pygmy Parrot, Micropsitta
Mammals found only here or on nearby island groups include the
large fruit bats, Admiralty Flying-fox, Pteropus admiralitatum,
Andersen's naked-backed fruit bat, Dobsonia anderseni,
and Seri's Sheathtail-Bat, Emballonura serii, while the
two pure-endemics are Admiralty Island Cuscus, Spilocuscus
kraemeri, and a local Mosaic-Tailed Rat, Melomys matambuai.
are home to two endemic Platymantis frogs, Platymantis admiraltiensis,
and Platymantis latro, and four lizards, while the
Emerald green snail of Manus was the first terrestrial snail to
be listed as vulnerable by the IUCN.
naked-backed fruit bat, Dobsonia anderseni
The numbers of global and New Guinea invertebrate species are
poorly known, and thus an accurate comparison is difficult.
Butterflies are the best known invertebrate group, and are represented
in New Guinea by about 735 species, which is about
4.2% of the world total of 17,500 species.
The mammal fauna of New Guinea is composed of all extant subclasses
of mammal: the monotremes*), placentals and marsupials *).
New Guinea contains the largest number of monotreme species of
any land mass, with only one species absent: the Platypus
(Ornithorhynchus anatinus). The marsupial fauna of New Guinea
is diverse, consisting of the three orders: Dasyuromorphia, Peramelemorphia
Monotremes are mammals that lay eggs (Prototheria) instead
of giving birth to live young like marsupials (Metatheria) and
mammals (Eutheria). The only examples of monotremes are all indigenous
to Australia and New Guinea. They include the platypus
and four species of echidnas (or spiny anteaters).
The three living Zaglossus species are endemic to New
Guinea. They are rare and are hunted for food.
They forage in leaf litter on the forest floor, eating
earthworms and insects. The species are:
Western long-beaked echidna
, Zaglossus bruijni
of the highland forests
Sir David's long-beaked echidna, Zaglossus attenboroughi
described in 1961 and preferring a still higher habitat
Eastern long-beaked echidna, Zaglossus bartoni
of which four distinct subspecies have been identified
echidna is one of a handful of mammals
to give birth to its offspring by laying eggs
The western long-beaked echidna
is present in New
Guinea, in regions of elevation between 1,300 and 4,000
metres; it is absent from the southern lowlands and north
coast. Its preferred habitats are alpine meadow and
humid montane forests. Unlike the short-beaked echidna,
which eats ants and termites, the long-beaked species
eats earthworms. The long-beaked echidna is also larger
than the short-beaked species, reaching up to 16.5
kilograms ; the snout is longer and turns downward; and
the spines are almost indistinguishable from the long
It is distinguished from the other Zaglossus species by
the number of claws on the fore and hind feet: three (rarely
four). It is the largest extant monotreme.
Marsupials are an infraclass of mammals, characterized
by giving birth to relatively undeveloped young. Close to 70%
of the 334
extant species occur in Australia, New Guinea, and nearby islands,
with the remaining 100 found in the Americas, primarily in
South America, but with thirteen in Central America, and one in
North America, north of Mexico.
BBC film crew make discoveries in Papua New Guinea September
A new species of giant rat is one of 40 new species discovered
on a recent expedition to a remote
rainforest in Papua New Guinea. Weighing in at 1.5kg,
and measuring 82cm from nose to tail,
the Bosavi Woolly Rat is one of the biggest rats in the
world - as big as a domestic cat.
Photograph: Jonny Keeling/BBC
Bosavi Silky Cuscus - Another major new find
The BBC expedition also found another unique type of mammal
called the Bosavi Silky Cuscus.
The animal - which looks like a small bear - is a marsupial
that lives up trees, feeding on fruits and leaves.
Weighing in at over 2kg, it has dense silky fur adapted
for a mountain environment. Like the giant rat,
the Bosavi Silky Cuscus also appeared to have no fear
of man, suggesting these animals have never
come into contact with humans before.
The native placental mammals are solely represented by the rodents
and bats. There are approximately the same number of
placental species as maruspials and monotremes.
The carnivorous marsupials, Dasyuromorphia, of New Guinea are
all small in comparison to Australian species, and most are
insectivorous. The largest is the Bronze Quoll, Dasyurus spartacus,
a rare quoll, first discovered in southern New Guinea in 1979.
It reaches a snout to vent length of 36 centimetres.
Macropodidae, of New Guinea are very varied in their ecology and
behaviour. Those closely related to the
Australian kangaroos, such as the Agile Wallaby, Macropus agilis,,
inhabit the open grasslands of New Guinea. However,
which are mostly endemic to New Guinea, are different in appearance
and behaviour. As suggested by their
name, they are arboreal. They have a long, thick tail which enable
them to balance in trees, and large, strong forearms for gripping
to trees. Two species of tree kangaroos are also found in Australia.
The cuscus, family Phalangeridae, are a family of marsupials closely
related to the possums of Australia. The cuscus have evolved in
New Guinea, and are found throughout the island. Most species
are dark brown or black, however two species, the Common Spotted
Cuscus (Spilocuscus maculatus) and Black Spotted Cuscus (Spilocuscus
rufoniger), are black, orange and yellow.
ABC Library Sales, Melbourne.
Audio: BBC Natural History Unit
& Granada Wild
turtle eggs hatching and hatchlings
ABC Library Sales, Melbourne.
Audio: BBC Natural History Unit
The pig-nosed turtle, Carettochelys insculpta, also
known as the pitted-shelled turtle or fly river turtle,
is a species of
turtle native to freshwater streams, lagoons and rivers
of Australia and New Guinea. This species is the only
of the genus Carettochelys, the subfamily Carettochelyinae
and the family Carettochelyidae.
The pig-nosed turtle is unlike any other species of
freshwater turtle in the world. It is the best adapted
turtle to an aquatic
lifestyle, with the exception of marine turtles. The
carapace is typically grey or olive in colour, with
a leathery texture,
while the plastron is cream-coloured. The feet are flippers,
resembling those of marine turtles. The nose looks like
a pig, having the nostrils at the end of a fleshy snout,
hence the common name. Males can be distinguished from
by their longer and narrower tails. Pig-nosed turtles
can grow to about 70 centimetres shell-length, with
a weight of
over 20 kilograms.
The species is omnivorous, eating a wide variety of
plant and animal matter, including the fruit and leaves
of figs as well
as crustaceans, molluscs and insects. They are also
well known to eat the bodies of kangaroos, cattle and
any other dead
animals that make their way into the river systems where