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myths, vampires and drop-bears

Sir Joseph Banks was the botanist with Captain James Cook during the voyage of the Endeavour and the official discovery of Australia by England. He later became president of the Royal Society in London and presided over the scientific efforts of his age. Preserved animals, plants and fishes all found their way to London fuelling the thirst for knowledge of exotic places. A preserved platypus was condemned as a fake for many years. Hidden among this huge archive were the preserved corpses of some amazing creatures believed to be faked or extinct until recently.
When Darwin formulated his theory of evolution he was noting how creatures like finches had adapted in various ways to take advantage of ecological niches. Koalas were thought to be an evolutionary dead end. In the last decade there have been signs of shocking variations to normal koala habits and biology. Scientists initially suspected that Phascolarctos cinereus phatarsus and Phascolarctos cinereus sanguinus are recent genetic variations from standard koala stock.

Historical transcripts suggest that both of these forms were alive, if uncommon, at the time of the arrival of the first fleet in 1788. The Europeans brought disease in forms never known on this continent and while the human diseases were destroying much of the local populations of aborigines, animal-borne disease may have wiped out all but a few of the populations of rarer Koala. They might never have existed!

Frantic debate continues with regard to the possibility of skins or preserved animals being destroyed by unknown persons during the period of Sir Joseph Banks' presidency. Mention was made of strong links between English and Australian Freemasons. The Australian scientific community has seen the waters further muddied by reports that some local tourist operators have known of the existence of these rarities for years and may have conspired with individuals from government to keep them a secret rather than risk a drop in local visitors when the dangers became known.