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Additional resources for On the Land (Life on Earth)
Seymouria Reptiles may have evolved from tetrapods “early amphibians” like this one. O NE GROUP OF “TETRAPODS,” including Seymouria and its relatives, had strong legs that held the body off the ground. Seymouria was a 24-inch-long (60 cm) animal that lived about 280 million years ago. Some aspects were quite reptilian; in fact, they were once thought to be reptiles. However, the skull still had lateral line grooves. In fishes and amphibians these hold sense organs for feeling movement in water.
In Australia, there are over 70 species of carnivorous marsupials of various families. The biggest family, the dasyures, contains mostly mouse-sized animals. Marsupial “mice” are fierce predators that pounce on grasshoppers and small lizards. Larger species, called quolls, or native cats, also feed on insects and some vertebrates. The biggest dasyure is the Tasmanian devil, an animal that grows up to 32 inches (80 cm) long, plus a tail that is 12 inches (30 cm) in length. It can catch large prey, but often eats dead animals, swallowing chunks of carrion and crunching up bones with powerful teeth.
They are light and need little more than sharp claws to climb tree trunks. They run along branches and jump from tree to tree. Pygmy squirrels of Southeast Asia are only 4 inches (10 cm) long, with a 3-inch (8 cm) tail and weigh 1 ounce (30 g). Giant squirrels from the same region are up to 18 inches (45 cm) long, with the same length tail, and weigh 4 pounds (2 kg). As well as tree squirrels there are many others, such as chipmunks, that spend much time on the ground. Marmots are heavily built.