Australian Water-Rats


Product No. krefft014

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The Mammals of Australia

This folio lithograph is from Gerard Krefft’s scarce work entitled The Mammals of Australia. The work was published in Sydney by Thomas Richards in 1871. The work was illustrated by Miss Harriett Scott and Mrs Helena Forde, for the Council of Education.

Johann Ludwing (Louis) Gerard Krefft was the curator for the Australian Museum and an internationally renowned zoologist and paleontologist. Krefft also published the following works: The Snakes of Australia, A Catalogue of the Minerals and Rocks in the Australian Museum, and A Short Guide to the Australian Fossil Remains in the Australian Museum. Two reptiles native to Australia are named for him, the Cacophis krefftii (a venoumous snake) and Emydura macquarii kreftii (a freshwater turtle). The endangered Northern Hairy-nosed Wombat, Lasiorhinus krefftii, is also named for him.

Krefft communicated with Charles Darwin, Richard Owen, and many other reputable scientists of his time. He was one of the few that accepted Darwin’s theory of evolution noting “Some of his observations on animals have not been surpassed and can no longer be equalled because of the spread of settlement” (DAB).

Wikipedia notes Krefft’s downfall in his position with some detail: “Krefft was fired in 1874. He was carried in his chair to the door of the Museum and thrown into the street. He had fallen foul of the Trustees, William John Macleay in particular, because he had accused them of using the museum’s resources to augment private collections.[3] They responded by accusing him of drunkenness, falsifying attendance records and even allowing the sale of dirty postcards. He subsequently brought an action against one of the trustees and obtained a verdict for £250. The judge held that Krefft was a superior officer under government, and that no one had power to remove him but the governor with the advice of the executive council. Subsequently, parliament passed a vote of £1000 to be applied in satisfaction of Krefft’s claims. In 1877 he began the publication of Krefft’s Nature in Australia, a popular journal for the discussion of questions of natural history, but it quickly ceased publication.”

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