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Word Count: 550
Australia island continent located southeast of Asia and forming with the nearby island of Tasmania about 2500 miles from east to west and bout 2300 miles from north to south area of the commonwealth is 2966150 square miles and the area of the continent alone is 2939974 square miles making Australia the smallest continent in the world but the sixth largest country Unique forms of animal life exist in Australia Seven families of mammals and four families of birds are classified as native to the country About 70 percent of the birds 88 percent of the reptiles and 94 percent of the frogs are unique to Australia Seven of the more than 700 known species of birds have become extinct since the beginning of European settlement and another 36 are endangered Of mammals 19 are extinct and 49 are threatened One striking aspect of mammal life in Australia is the absence of representatives of most of the orders found on other continents However the primitive egg-layin g mammals known as monotremes are found mostly in Australia One of them the platypus is an aquatic furred mammal with a bill like that of a duck and with poisonous spurs It lives in the streams of southeastern Australia Another monotreme of Australia is the spiny anteater Most native mammals are marsupials the young of which are nourished in an abdominal pouch The best-known marsupials of Australia are the kangaroos which include about 50 species The phalangers are marsupials that live in trees they include the possum and the koala a popular fur-bearing animal that is protected throughout Australia Other well-known marsupials are the burrowing wombat bandicoot and pouched mouse The carnivorous Tasmanian devil principally a scavenger is found only on the island of Tasmania Rodents bats and the dingo belong to a different order of mammals The dingo is a doglike night hunter that also preys on sheep it does not bark but howls The economy was
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