By Tim Flannery
Tim Flannery is among the world’s such a lot influential scientists, credited with studying extra species than Darwin. In one of the Islands Flannery recounts a sequence of expeditions he made on the sunrise of his profession to the unusual tropical islands of the South Pacific, a good arc stretching approximately 4,000 miles from the postcard perfection of Polynesia to a few of the biggest, optimum, old, and such a lot rugged islands on earth.Flannery used to be touring looking for infrequent and undiscovered mammal species, yet he discovered even more: wild, bizarre areas the place neighborhood taboos, foul climate, dense jungle, and sheer remoteness made for tough and dramatic exploration. one of the Islands is filled with attention-grabbing creaturesmonkey confronted bats, enormous fat, gazelle-faced black wallabies, and moreand the journey of discovery. this is often an idea learn for someone who has ever imagined voyaging to the ends of the earth to discover and research the infrequent and the glorious.
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Additional resources for Among the Islands: Adventures in the Pacific
On islands, bats have been known to take on some of the characteristics of apes, and rats those of badgers, shrews or possums. Even humans and their behaviours are shaped by island life, and as a result island cultures have become as varied and novel as any on Earth. Not all island life is established by vagrants arriving by raft, wind or wing. Islands that originate as slices of continents, severed from the mainland by powerful geological forces, carry with them a subset of continental life. When that happens, entire ecosystems are set adrift to adjust over millions of years to life in a small, isolated sphere.
But soon it faces overpopulation: most individuals will die and only those with a particular advantage will survive. Perhaps those lucky few can utilise some food inaccessible to the rest, or perhaps they can conserve energy because they don’t fly much, or perhaps they are smaller than average and can subsist on the slender resources the island affords them. Because the population is small and the selection of the survivors so rigorous, the evolutionary process is greatly accelerated. The influence of such powerful evolutionary pressure can be profound.
I’d found a clue to its presence while rummaging in the museum collections, in the form of a stuffed skin whose tag stated that it had been collected forty years earlier on Kiriwina. Bandicoots are rabbit-sized, ground-dwelling marsupials that eat invertebrates and fruit. In the lowlands of New Guinea, a genus of bandicoots with spiny fur, Echymipera, tends to predominate. Bandicoots have the shortest gestation of any mammal—just eleven days in some species, and females can give birth while they are still suckling from their own mother.