Natural history

view: list | gallery

Eastern Grey Kangaroo (Macropus giganteus) and Grasstree (Xanthorrhoea sp.)Most of the drawings (507) in the First Fleet collection are of natural history subjects. Over half of these are of birds but there are also significant numbers of plants, mammals, fish, reptiles, arthropods and molluscs. These drawings are why the Museum purchased the three collections.

A number of drawings in this section are iconotypes (meaning that the original specimen the drawing is based on has been lost or destroyed) and in some cases represent the only known record of a species for which no specimen has survived. 70% of the mammals to be found in Australia in 1788 are now extinct.

From as early as 1790 onwards books about the natural history of Australia began to be published for which many of the drawings here were the source of the illustrations.