John Gould: Mammals of Australia

June - July 2020

John Gould (14 September 1804 – 3 February 1881) was an English ornithologist and naturalist. He published a number of monographs on birds, illustrated by plates that he produced with the assistance of his wife, Elizabeth Gould. He has been considered the father of bird study in Australia. His identification of the birds now nicknamed “Darwin’s finches” played a role in the inception of Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection. Gould’s work is referenced in Charles Darwin’s book, On the Origin of Species.

In addition to his work on ornithology, Gould also produced A Monograph of the Macropodidae or Family of Kangaroos (2 parts, 30 plates 1841 – 42) and The Mammals of Australia (3 volumes, 182 plates 1845 – 63). He wrote, in explanation of this departure from birds:

It was not until I arrived in the country, and found myself surrounded by objects as strange as if I had been transported to another planet, that I conceived the idea of devoting a portion of my attention to the mammalian class of its extraordinary fauna.

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