Continent of Curiosities: A Journey through Australian Natural History

Edition: 1st
Format: Hardcover
Pub. Date: 2007-05-14
Publisher(s): Cambridge University Press
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Collecting curiosities was a gentlemanly occupation for wealthy and educated 18th-century Europeans. Few creatures aroused more curiosity than those from Australia. But collections demand organisation,and classification itself reveals patterns to life that cannot be ignored. From a leisurely occupation, the science of biology was born. Cabinets de curiosites became national museums, with specimens from Australia playing an integral role in all kinds of biological debates. Australian museums now foster their own research and continue to provide major and sometimes unexpected perspectives to international scientific developments. Continent of Curiosities follows the thread of individual natural history stories through the scientists of one of Australia's oldest museums, Museum Victoria. Together, these stories weave a history of the development of biological science from an Australian perspective, with insights into the people and places that influence the way we see and understand the natural world around us.

Author Biography

Danielle Clode is a lecturer in zoology at the University of Melbourne.

Table of Contents

Part I. Visions from the Old World - The Last Five Hundred Years: 1. Curious collections
2. A beast named Su
3. Local knowledge
Part II. Into the Forests - The Last 250,000 Years: 4. Water, water everywhere
5. Forests of fire
6. The mystery of the reappearing possums
Part III. From Fossils and Bones - The Last 250 Million Years: 7. The case of the missing mollusc
8. Brainbox
9. The ape case
Part IV. Visions of the New Worlds - The Last Four and a Half Billion Years: 10. Lines in the sea
11. Shifting continents
12. Is there life on Mars?
References and further reading.

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