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P is for Platypus


Claydon, A, P is for Platypus, Animalia: An Anti-Imperial Bestiary for Our Times, Duke University Press, A Burton and R Marawi (ed), United States, pp. 1-5. ISBN 9781478011286 (2020) [Other Book Chapter]

Open XML Document ("P is for Platypus" in Antoinette Burton and Renisa Marawi, (eds), Animalia: An Anti-Imperial Bestiary for Our Times (Duke University Press, 2018) )
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If ever there was an animal that seemed designed to confound, perplex, and upset colonial science, it was the humble platypus (Ornithoryhnchus anatinus). Often described as "paradoxical," the duck-billed, web-footed, beaver-tailed mammals seemed to invert the order of Nature, combining the features of so many animals that it boggled the imagination. Contemplating the platypus led a young Charles Darwin to muse in 1836, "A Disbeliever in everything beyond his own reason, might exclaim, ‘Surely two distinct Creators must be at work.’" The obsession of British scientists over the delicate matter of the platypus’s reproduction – and in particular, the question of whether or not it laid eggs and nursed its young – illustrated some of the profound tensions that lay at the heart of imperial science, e.g., the relative authority of amateurs and professionals, the cabinet and field, and indigenous people and colonial laymen.

Item Details

Item Type:Other Book Chapter
Keywords:platypus, indigenous knowledge, scientific societies, Lady Jane Franklin
Research Division:History, Heritage and Archaeology
Research Group:Historical studies
Research Field:Historical studies not elsewhere classified
Objective Division:Expanding Knowledge
Objective Group:Expanding knowledge
Objective Field:Expanding knowledge in history, heritage and archaeology
UTAS Author:Claydon, A (Dr Annaliese Claydon)
ID Code:122041
Year Published:2020
Deposited By:Office of the School of Humanities
Deposited On:2017-10-27
Last Modified:2020-07-07

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