Natural History

What does it mean to be human – nearly human, not-quite-human, or even inhuman? Such questions have preoccupied writers and researchers for centuries, from Charles Darwin and Mary Shelley to the uncanny valley of robotics, AI, and a trans-human future. In Wild Man from Borneo, Robert Cribb, Helen Gilbert, and Helen Tiffen explore this question through the ...

Danielle Clode reviews 'Landmarks' by Robert Macfarlane

Danielle Clode
Thursday, 28 May 2015

The Western Isles arch across the north-west coast of Scotland, sheltering the mainland from the North Sea’s fury. In summer there are few places more magical than these islands, which Seton Gordon once described as standing ‘on the rim of the material earth’ looking west to the immortal realm of Tir nan Og.

On the northern islands, granite and gneiss ...

Danielle Clode reviews 'Tambora' by Gillen D'Arcy Wood

Danielle Clode
Wednesday, 29 April 2015

As I sit by the fire, a gale rackets at the door and horizontal sleet sheets across my windows. With monster snowfalls in the Alps, the weather is breaking records again. Each winter, the winds are stronger, rains heavier, and temperatures lower than ever before. I put more wood on the fire and consider my investment in double-glazing well-spent.

In our prot ...

In July 2009 I toured the Murray-Darling Basin and northern Queensland with a group of American college professors to see firsthand how the waterways of these regions were faring. By this time, south-eastern Australia had been in drought for nearly a decade, reducing its rivers and creeks to mere trickles. Aboard the MV Kingfisher, we explored the wetlands of ...

Sam Cadman: the death of animals

Sam Cadman
Tuesday, 27 May 2014

As Carol Freeman notes in a footnote to her chapter in Animal Death, ‘what the term “animal studies” defines is still being debated’. The seventeen chapters of this edited volume range across historical, scientific, cultural, and artistic animal-related subjects. They reflect a self-conscious commitment on the part of editors Jay Johnston and Fiona Pr ...

The Science of what Separates Us from other Animals

Robyn Williams
Wednesday, 26 February 2014

ABR Radio National’s Robyn Williams reviews Thomas Suddendorf’s important new study of the science that separates human beings from animals.

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Peter Menkhorst reviews 'Lost Animals'

Peter Menkhorst
Sunday, 19 January 2014

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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White Beech

John Thompson
Thursday, 16 January 2014

John Thompson examines Germaine Greer’s sober, meditative, deeply moving account of her efforts to regenerate sixty hectares of degraded rainforest in the Gold Coast hinterland.

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Rebecca Giggs on 'How Animals Grieve'

Rebecca Giggs
Monday, 26 August 2013

In an age of YouTube piglets and puppies, when animals are images and those images are everywhere, the interior lives of animals have scant authority. The triumph of the animal welfare lobby has been to widen, in the public imagination, our definition of what types of bodies can suffer. But who can guess what goes on inside animals’ heads? Only poets are pet ...

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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