Rare early contribution to the anatomy of the duck-billed Platypus

Knox, R.

Observations on the anatomy of the duck-billed animal of New South Wales, the Ornithorynchus paradoxus of naturalists [AND] Observations on the organs of digestion and their appendages, and on the organs of respiration and circulation, in the Ornithorynchus paradoxus [AND] On the kidneys, urinary bladder, and organs of generation, in the male of the Ornithorynchus paradoxus.

Published 1824
Item ID 68740

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Edinburgh, Adam Black, 1824. 8vo (20.8 x 13.4 cm). 45 pp. [15; 6; 24]; three engraved plates. Contemporary quarter calf over marbled boards. Spine with gilt lines and title. Marbled endpapers. Speckled edges.

Three early accounts on the anatomy and morphology of one of Australia's most famous mammals: the duck-billed Platypus, then a still quite mysterious animal, by Robert Knox. The three plates show the "poison gland and duct in the foot" (it is the only poisonous mammal), the "complex clavicle and scapulae", and the "organs of generation in the male". On page 27, Knox remarked "It is well known that the specimens of this very extraordinary animal first brought to Europe were considered by many as impositions. They reached England by vessels which had navigated the Indian seas, a circumstance in itself sufficient to rouse the suspicions of the scientific naturalist, aware of the monstrous impostures which the artful Chinese had so frequently practised on European adventurers...". Contained in volume 5(1) of the Memoirs of the Wernerian Natural History Society, together with several unrelated papers, as well as Knox' two accounts of The foramen centrale of the retina, generally called the "Foramen of Soemmering", as seen in the eyes of certain reptiles, with a fine plate. Boards extremities somewhat rubbed and worn; old stamp on title page. A few marginalia in the index (not in Knox's paper). A very good copy. Rare. Neither in Nissen ZBI, nor in Ferguson.

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