Platypus Matters; The extraordinary story of Australian mammals

Jack Ashby
Event date
Event time
Museum of Natural History
Museum of Natural History
Parks Road
Event type
Lectures and seminars
Event cost
Disabled access?
Booking required
Not required

From platypuses to kangaroos, Australia has some truly astonishing mammals with incredible, unfamiliar features

Platypuses are unlike any other mammal: they lay eggs, produce milk without nipples, secrete venom without fangs, and can detect electrical signals. Or consider marsupials, such as kangaroos, whose live young climb up into their mothers' pouches after just a few weeks in the womb. How does the world regard these unfamiliar creatures? And what might this mean for their conservation?

In his upcoming talk, zoologist Jack Ashby will share the research behind his award-winning book, Platypus Matters. Informed by fieldwork in Australia and knowledge gained from museum specimens, Jack will unravel historical mysteries and debunk myths relating to Australian wildlife. Questioning labels like 'weird' or 'primitive', he will challenge the notion that Australia is an 'evolutionary backwater'. He will argue that these stereotypes can be traced back to the country's colonial past, and continue to undermine conservation efforts in Australia.

This event is part of the Oxfordshire Mammal Group's Winter Lecture Series.

Ticket prices

Oxfordshire Mammal Group members: FREE

General admission: £3 payable at the door

Please note there will be an opportunity to purchase annual membership to the Oxfordshire Mammal Group for £6, granting you free admission to the event.

About the speaker

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 their histories impact their conservation today.

Jack is currently 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.