This week the journal Historical Records of Australian Science launched a special issue exploring sciences contribution to the understanding of the arid interior of Australia.
My contribution came though an article summarising the early research on the red kangaroo and the dingo.
You will note from my title, Makings of Icons: Alan Newsome, the Red Kangaroo and the Dingo, that my contribution is a rather personal piece.
Below is a copy of the abstract and link to the journal web page.
The red kangaroo (Macropus rufus) and the dingo (Canis dingo) are two of Australia’s iconic mammals. Both are ingrained in the national psyche and well known internationally. For the red kangaroo, recognition has come despite the fact that the highest densities of the species occur well away from most of the human population. The dingo has achieved its status despite being present on the continent for perhaps as little as 3,000 years. This article considers the question of how, and why, these two animals became so elevated in the popular imagination and the scientific literature. It is a story of both the integers and consequences of scientific research, a story best told with a particular focus on the contribution made by one individual. Alan Newsome changed our understanding of the interactions between agriculture, introduced species and native wildlife, and was one of the first to understand the possibilities of enriching western science with Indigenous knowledge. He was a pioneer in explaining—particularly by reference to the red kangaroo in central Australia—the remarkable story of how Australian wildlife has adapted to survive some of the harshest conditions on the planet. His work across the landscape of the arid zone has had profound implications for management and conservation in Australia. This, then, is the story of three icons: the red kangaroo, the dingo and Alan Newsome.