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Wed, 19 Jul


Zoom talk

Look it has pockets! - Australian Marsupials Talk by Jack Ashby_19 July_Online

Wombats! Platypuses! Echidnas! We are very excited to have Jack Ashby, author of 'Platypus Matters', talk to us about all things Marsupial.

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Look it has pockets! - Australian Marsupials Talk by Jack Ashby_19 July_Online
Look it has pockets! - Australian Marsupials Talk by Jack Ashby_19 July_Online

Time & Location

19 Jul 2023, 19:30 – 21:30

Zoom talk


About the Event

What's it got in its pocketses? - The extraordinary story of Australian mammals

This meeting idea came about because Facebook's algorithm decided that there was nothing I desired more than videos from an Australian wombat rescue centre (they were right!), which prompted a conversation where I discovered that Verene loves Platypuses and Steph has a friend who is something of an expert in small Austrailian mammals (of course she has!). So when I asked if it was too despotic, as a President, to decide that what we really needed was a talk on such things, there was widespread agreement that it was not so much despotic as delightful :-)

Please note that this meeting will be on Zoom and the Zoom invite will be issued closer to the date So (drum roll, please!), I introduce you to Jack Ashby, Assistant Director, University Museum of Zoology, Cambridge

And here is the abstract of his talk:

Think of a platypus: they lay eggs, produce milk without nipples and venom without fangs, and can detect electricity. Or a marsupial: their babies can climb themselves into a pouch after just a couple of weeks in the womb, and some species can produce young like an endless conveyor belt of reproduction. From platypuses to kangaroos, Australia has some truly astonishing mammals, with incredible, unfamiliar features. But how does the world regard these creatures? And what does that mean for their conservation?

In this talk, zoologist Jack Ashby will share what he learnt whilst researching his award-winning book, Platypus Matters. Informed by experiences on fieldwork in Australia, as well as his work with thousands of museum specimens, Jack will explain historical mysteries and debunk myths, but also reveal the toll these myths can take. He makes clear that calling these perfectly adapted animals ‘weird’ or ‘primitive’—or incorrectly implying that Australia is an ‘evolutionary backwater’, a perception that can be traced back to the country’s colonial history—has undermined conservation. Biography:

Jack Ashby is the Assistant Director of the University Museum of Zoology, Cambridge. His work centres on engaging people with the natural world, chiefly through museums, and the colonial biases that museums often exhibit. His new book, Platypus Matters: The Extraordinary Story of Australian Mammals (2022) celebrates these iconic animals, explores how the wider world came to know them, and asks how these histories impact on their conservation today. He is an Art Fund Headley Fellow, researching the colonial histories of the Australian mammal collections in Cambridge. He is a trustee of the Natural Sciences Collections Association, and an Honorary Research Fellow in UCL Science and Technology Studies.

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