Timor-Leste coastline photo © Graham Crumb

Timor as a reality-check for Australian biogeography

Map showing the relative locations of Timor-Leste and Australia photo © Wikimedia Commons

Proboscideans, land tortoises and fungus-growing termites, all of which repeatedly crossed sea barriers from southeast Asia, reached as close to Australia as the Indonesian island of Timor – an edge of the Australian tectonic plate uplifted from the sea. Although  the final strait between Timor and the continental shelf has always remained wider than 80 kilometres, these animals may in fact have reached Australia and failed there for ecological reasons. This is because Timor is unlike Australia or New Guinea in offering nutritionally balanced substrates in the form of eroding slopes of shale.

Robin and the Honey Badger, 22 March 2016



Steep slopes of Timor-Leste

Steep slopes of Timor-Leste