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Cambridge University Library

Platypus freeze dried specimen

When Charles Darwin encountered live platypuses and other Australian mammals, he claimed that – compared to the rest of the world’s animals – they were so strange that one might think “two distinct Creators must have been at work”. 

Darwin is not alone in writing off marsupials, platypuses and echidnas as weird – ever since Europeans invaded Australia, the country’s mammals have regularly been described as “bizarre”, “odd” and even “primitive”. The origin of these subtle swipes, and why they are important for conservation today, are key themes in Jack Ashby’s new book Platypus Matters: The Extraordinary Story of Australian Mammals

This talk will celebrate the incredible adaptations of these species, whilst exploring the way the wider world has come to know them, and why these stories matter in the face of an unprecedented ongoing extinction crisis.

Our speaker will be Jack Ashby, Assistant Director of the Museum of Zoology. Signed copies of his book, Platypus Matters: The Extraordinary Story of Australian Mammals, will be on sale in the University Library shop.

Darwin in Conversation: The Endlessly Curious Life and Letters of Charles Darwin

This event is being hosted as part of Cambridge University Libraries exhibition, Darwin in Conversation: The Endlessly Curious Life and Letters of Charles Darwin (Saturday 9 July-Saturday 3 December). The exhibition is free and open to all, and those attending the talk are welcome to visit the exhibition beforehand (the exhibition will close after the talk finishes). Full details including opening times can be found here. For the latest visitor information about Covid-19, please click here.

Location: Milstein Seminar Rooms, Cambridge University Library

Registration: Free event open to all. BOOK HERE

Accessibility: Step-free access with slight gradient; narrowest point into the building is 82.5cm; accessible toilet; baby changing facilities; accessible parking. Please email if you have any questions about accessibility for this event.

Date: Thursday 29th September 2022