Author(s): Ann Moyal
249 pages, colour plates When the first specimen of a platypus arrived in England in 1799 it was greeted with astonishment and disbelief. What was this strange creature from the new colony of Australia? It defied rational explanation, with its webbed feet and duck's beak attached to what seemed to be a mammal's body - surely it was a hoax on the part of those cheeky new colonials? As eighteenth century naturalists struggled to classify the platypus, the little animal excited curiosity and sparked fierce debate in international scientific circles, drawing in leaders of zoology and comparative anatomy in Britain and Europe. This is the enigmatic story of a biological riddle that confounded scientists for nearly ninety years, challenging theories of creationism, evolution and the classification of species along the way. Secretive, elusive and beguiling, the platypus has continued to captivate public and scientific attention to the present day.
Winner of Whitley Awards: Best Zoological Handbook 2001. Shortlisted for Centre for Australian Cultural Studies National Award 2001.
Ann Moyal is a well-known historian of Australian science and has held research and teaching positions at a number of Australian universities. She has written many books and articles and is founder and past-president of the Independent Scholars Association of Australia. She now lives in Canberra.