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Chapter summary

  • The Daintree is a tropical rainforest in Queensland, Australia. It is listed as a World Heritage Area, and has over 700 species of plants and animals that can only be found there.
  • The Daintree is the home of the biggest conifer in the world, which is the bull kauri. The bunya pine and the plum pine are also in the Daintree.
  • The tallest cycad in the world is also found in the Daintree. This is Hope's cycad. The smallest cycad in Australia is also in the Daintree, the Bowenia.
  • Mammals, such as tree kangaroos, bats and tropical bettongs live in the Daintree.
  • Birds, including the cassowary, also live in the Daintree.
  • Some of the reptiles in the forest include snakes, crocodiles, geckos and lizards.
  • Frogs are amphibians that live in the Daintree. Rainbow fish are freshwater fish that can also be found there.

Introduction

Rainforests have approximately 3000 species of plants, and approximately 700 of these are only found in the Daintree (see map). The Daintree is a World Heritage Area, which means that it is protected by an internationally-recognised body. The uniqueness of many of the plants and animals that can be found in the Daintree is one of the reasons why the rest of the world thinks it is such an important place. Australia is the home of a very special environment, which needs to be respected and protected so that it will always be there.
 
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Ferns

There are approximately 40 species of fern in the Daintree. These species are not found anywhere else in the world. Ferns are a unique plant known as vascular plants. This means that they circulate their water internally.

King fern: This fern grows by spreading out on the ground, resembling a palm. It has the longest fronds (the leaves of ferns) of any fern in the world. See image 1
 
Tree fern: This has a narrow trunk and long fronds. This fern has been around for millions of years.
 
Tassel fern: There are two varieties of the tassel fern. One grows on other plants and the other grows on the ground.
 

Conifers

The Daintree has six types of conifer and one of these is the biggest in the world.

Bull kauri: This is the biggest conifer in the world. It is one of six species of conifer in the north Queensland rainforest. Two very tall bull kauri can be seen in the Daintree today. One of them measures 41.5 metres in height and the other is 44.2 metres. See image 2
 
Bunya pine: The bunya pine can grow up to 40 metres in height. This plant has sharp leaves that are very stiff.
Plum pine: This pine produces seeds that look like plums.
 

Cycads

Cycads are palm-like, cone-bearing, evergreen plants.

The Bowenia is the smallest cycad to be found in Australia. This cycad has poisonous leaves, which are a glossy emerald colour. The Hope's cycad is the tallest cycad in the world. The seeds of Hope's cycad are toxic. See image 3

 

Palms

Palms first came from India. They have been in Australia, however, for millions of years.

Fan palm: The fan palm thrives in the wet season, and loves muddy flooded areas. This palm can grow up to six metres tall and can have a diameter of four metres. See image 4
 
Wait-a-while palm: This palm is a climbing palm that has sharp hooks. Water that we can drink is found in the stems of this palm.
 
The Daintree is home to many different plants and animals. Many of the species are endemic to the rainforest,  which means they can only be found here. We will look at some of the mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish that are found in the Daintree.
 
See image 5
 

Mammals

Tree kangaroos: Tree kangaroos are small, shy mammals that hide in trees. They are only about 60 centimetres in height but they have a tail that is almost one metre in length.

Bats: Bats play an important role in the rainforest by spreading seeds. While some bats eat insects, they primarily live on fruit and nectar. It is through eating and expelling these that the bats disperse seeds.

Tropical bettong: The bettong is a rare nocturnal mammal. The bettong feeds on fungi and spends most of its time on the ground.
 

Birds

Cassowary: This endangered bird has a very colourful head and neck. It is the male that will incubate the eggs and raise the chicks. This bird, like the bat, is responsible for spreading the seeds of many trees.


Reptiles

Snakes: The amethystine python is the largest of the Australian pythons, and it lives in the Daintree. On average it will grow to about seven metres in length. They eat warm-blooded animals, which they kill by suffocation. Other snakes that live in the Daintree include the death adder and the taipan. These are venomous snakes.

Crocodiles: Australian crocodiles are thought to be the most aggressive crocodiles in the world. They can grow to about five metres in length. Crocodiles lay eggs.
 
Geckos: The northern leaf-tailed gecko lives in the Daintree. This lizard can only be found in Australia. It has rough skin and spiky scales.

Lizards: The Daintree is also the home of a lizard which is thought to have originated form Southeast Asia and New Guinea. The Boyd's forest dragon can grow to 50 centimetres in length and it has curved spikes that form a line down its back.
 

Amphibians

Frogs: The common green tree frog likes to live in moist, dark places. This frog eats insects like moths, flies and crickets and grows to about nine centimetres.


Freshwater Fish

The rainbow fish is a colourful fish that is also found in New Guinea. It is a tropical-climate fish that lives in fresh water.


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Question 1/5

1. The cassowary:

is nocturnal

is a dangerous bird

grows inside the mother and is born live

is endangered

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