In the backrooms of museums around Australia, millions of specimens lie waiting to be discovered – bones, fossils, skins, eggs, rocks, plants and artefacts. Each one has a story to tell, a place in the history of our continent.
From a passion for collecting curiosities, the sciences of natural history have emerged. And no continent provided more curiosities than Australia. Continent of Curiosities follows the thread of these stories from the collections of one of Australia’s oldest museums, Museum Victoria. Inspired by objects in the natural science collectios, these essays 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.
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Museums are more than their showy exhibition halls. Beneath the surface there is a wealth of objects weaving stories through time and space.
Europeans were bewildered by their early encounters with marsupials in Australia, but where was their first encounter with these creatures?
The history of science is often presented as a history of great men, but science is also built on the contribution of many who go unknown and unacknowledged.
Protected water catchments not only provide cheap clean water to cities like Melbourne, but also protect healthy forest ecosystems.
Bushfires have shaped the nature of Australian ecosystems, and particularly eucalypt forests in diverse and remarkable ways.
Extinction is an all too common feature of Australia's modern fauna, but sometimes species thought to have been lost are found in unexpected places.
From Jurassic fossils in Paris to the beaches of Tasmania, trigonias have unexpectedly illuminated evolutionary debates for decades.
Brains are not something usually associated with dinosaurs, but understanding what's in their skull tells us much about our past.
This family of gorillas was a sensation in 1865 Melbourne, reflecting popular and scientific debate over our relationship with close cousins.
Alfred Wallace famously developed his theory of evolution by natural selection in south east Asia, but his contribution of biogeography just as significant.
What do flightless birds have to tell us about the shifting distribution of the continents and the origins of Gondwana?
A Martian meteorite can tells us much about the red planet. But can it tell us anything about interplanetary life?