Easter Wrap: The Easter Bilby is here!

You might be more used to getting a visit from the Easter bunny, but in Australia it’s the Easter bilby that stops by. Here are some stories about our Aussie Easter icon.

Bilbies are more than Easter icons

Bilby burrows are not just homes for our favourite Easter icon.

If you’re walking quietly through Australian bush this Easter you might get lucky – no chocolate eggs are likely to be hiding there, but you could spot two little eyes peeking out of a burrow.

And if you got a closer look you would see a shy little critter with soft grey fur, a pointy nose, large rabbit-like ears, and a long, black-tipped tail. Despite having legs like a kangaroo, it gallops like a horse.

It is Australia’s own greater bilby (Macrotis lagotis).

A missing part of the rock art gallery

Newly described images show human-animal relationships.

Arnhem Land rock art is continuing to provide a window into Australia’s past, with scientists describing 572 previously unknown images in a paper in the journal Australian Archaeology.

The Maliwawa Figures, which range in age from 6000 to 9400 years, were documented across 87 sites from Awunbarna (Mount Borradaile area) to the Namunidjbuk Estate of the Wellington Range in northwest Arnhem Land. One site also includes bilby images – surprising, as Arnhem Land historically has not been within their range. 

The researchers suggest they are a missing link between early-style Dynamic Figures, 12,000 years in age, and X-ray figures made in the past 4000 years.

Bilbies have “evolved” to fear dingo poo

Faeces prompts a reflex response, even when they haven’t met.

For the past several millennia, bilbies – a type of Australian marsupial – have shared their environments with dingoes, wild dogs introduced by humans. This has resulted in a hard-wired lesson: dog poo means trouble.

A team found that when the bilbies could smell the dog droppings they tended to emerge only partially from their burrows and wait. There was no similar reaction to the faeces of rabbits – which are harmless – or, unfortunately, cats, which represent a direct predatory threat to much of Australia’s wildlife.

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