Peter Menkhorst

Australia’s nearest neighbour, the fabulous New Guinea, is one of the least developed and least known islands on earth. The largest and highest tropical island, it boasts extensive tracts of old-growth tropical forest (second only to the Amazon following massive destruction in Borneo and Sumatra), equatorial alpine environments, extensive lowland swamp forests, and huge abundances and diversities of orchids, rhododendrons, forest tree species, frogs, freshwater fish, and leeches. The fauna, exotic as well as diverse, include the richest radiations of tree kangaroos, echidnas, birds of paradise, and bowerbirds.

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The Australian Bird Guide edited by Peter Menkhorst, Danny Rogers, Rohan Clarke, Jeff Davies, Peter Marsack, and Kim Franklin

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October 2017, no. 395

With five illustrated field guides, two e-guide apps, and at least three photographic guides available to help people identify birds in Australia, some would question the need for yet another. The first field guide to Australian birds, written and illustrated by renowned bird artist Peter Slater, was published in 1970 and 1974 (two volumes) ...

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Australia’s wild dog, the dingo, probably generates the most diverse human responses of any of our fauna – from a determination to exterminate to passionate conservation advocacy. This book is a bold attempt to cover this diversity and asserts that the dingo is a unique wild animal worthy of conservation for its intrinsic value, ...

The white explorers who first penetrated the interior of this continent were exceptional men. White Australians of the time considered them heroes, performing an essential role in identifying opportunities for exploitation, settlement, and commerce. Mostly, the explorers were heroic – determined, tough, single-minded, and stoic in the face of enormous hardship. Th ...

Australia’s birds stand out from the global avian pack in many ways – ecologically, behaviourally, because some ancient lineages survive here, and because many species are endemic. The ancestors of more than half of the planet’s ten thousand bird species (the songbirds) evolved right here (eastern Gondwana) before spreading across the world. Indeed, Tim Low cl ...

Errol Fuller has played a key role in documenting historical extinctions of birds, notably the Great Auk and the Dodo. In the course of this work he has accumulated a fascinating collection of photographs of now extinct animals, many of them unique and not previously published.

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Curious Minds sets out to explore the naturalists and scientists who brought Australia’s flora and fauna into the public consciousness: on the face of it a laudable aim, but one not totally fulfilled. From the title onwards the book seems confused in its aims and in its style. Is the book intended to be about people (the curious naturalists), flora and faun ...

Why would a famous virologist and immunologist (and Nobel laureate) write a book linking birds, human diseases, and ecological degradation? The answer is partly that Peter Doherty obviously has a soft spot for birds and birdwatching. He argues that anyone with an enquiring mind and a natural history ...

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When the first specimen of the Platypus reached Europe in 1798, it was received with incredulity by zoologists. With anatomical and morphological characteristics seemingly belonging to reptiles, birds, and mammals, it simply did not fit into the existing classifications. Further, it appeared to lack mammary glands and therefore could not be classed as a mammal, yet it had obvious mammalian characteristics such as fur and a single bone comprising the lower jaw. It was also noted that there was only one external body opening, the cloaca, into which the uteri, the gut, and the kidneys empty. Hence the name Monotreme (having one hole) applied by English anatomist Sir Everard Home in 1802. Put simply, the Platypus created more than its share of headaches for taxonomists.

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In this age of throwaway digital images it is easy to forget that before the late nineteenth century the only means of conveying a visual image of an object or place was by drawing its likeness. For this reason, well-funded exploratory expeditions often included an artist whose role was to illustrate new and interesting people, landscapes, geological features, anima ...

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