Jack Ashby is the Assistant Director of the Museum of Zoology at the University of Cambridge, one of the UK's largest and most significant natural history museums. His life is split between a career dedicated to engaging people with the natural world - chiefly through museums - and ecological fieldwork across Australia, on behalf of universities and wildlife organisations there. Jack is also the author of Animal Kingdom: A Natural History in 100 Objects; a trustee of the Natural Sciences Collections Association and the international Society for the History of Natural History; and an Honorary Research Fellow in the Department of Science and Technology Studies at University College London. When he's not chasing animals for work, he's generally doing it for fun, undertaking mammalwatching trips around the world, and sharing his excitement for what he finds on social media. He lives in Hertfordshire.
'Ashby makes the case that Australia's wildlife is not a collection of oddities and species that can kill you, as it is most often, and even well-meaningly portrayed. He explores how this traditional narrative about Australia's native animals arose, how it is incorrect, and shows why it matters. Some of the species met along the way, including echidnas, wombats, Tasmanian devils and scaly-tailed possums, leave lovely impressions that will be lasting portrayals. Both serious and fun, Platypus Matters is compelling reading.' Kristofer M. Helgen, chief scientist and director, Australian Museum Research Institute 'Platypus Matters is an original, charming book with a contemporary message. Ashby seeks to convince us of the importance of Australia's mammals, using the platypus as a worthy ambassador. Most importantly, with a combination of beguiling stories and impassioned arguments, he explains the very real consequences of devaluing Australian wildlife for the survival of this unique fauna. Ashby's raw enthusiasm as a naturalist and love of sharing a good anecdote make for entertaining reading, but the final chapters take a sobering turn, and rightly so. His book is a clear call to action to address the urgency of the current extinction crisis. It's also a bloody good read.' Katherine Tuft, general manager, Arid Recovery (Australia) 'Timely, important and multifaceted, Platypus Matters is a lesson in the evolution of mammals, a historical journey and an adventure book packed with exciting stories of Ashby's global travels. Most profound is the book's intellectual exploration of colonial perspectives and how they shaped the world's understanding of and subsequent relationship with Australia's unique fauna - to this day. Fascinating and enlightening. Only Ashby could have written this book, and I absolutely loved it!' Georgia Ward-Fear, Macquarie University, co-founder, Cane Toad Coalition