Whenever a new plant or animal is found and named, a single specimen is preserved and made available in a museum (or similar) for future consultation. This holotype, complete with genus (for example, Nyctimene) and species (wrightae), serves as a reference, a claim for the new type. In this case, the New Guinea tube-nosed fruit bat (Nyctimene wrightae), described in 2017 by Nancy Irwin. On Monday 3 January 1876 the Western Australian pastoralist (and father of Edith Cowan) Kenneth Brown murdered his wife. Brown was a well-respected grazier and horse breeder, but also a violent alcoholic. As he and his second wife, Mary Anne, were packing their Champion Bay house for an anticipated move, Brown (a collector of holotypes) became tired of Mary’s nagging and, according to the Portland Guardian, ‘followed the instincts of a nature at once cruel, brutal and selfish, and sought relief by destroying that which irritated[,] unmoved by pity and reckless of consequences’. Although usually a deft shot with a gun, ‘… he deliberately fires at his victim and she flies shrieking from his presence, and when he perceives the shot is not fatal follows her to her place of retreat … points the second barrel of the gun at her head and blows out her brains’.
Like Brown, the night parrot (Pezoporus occidentalis) is an Australian enigma. With common names, including the solitaire and midnight cockatoo, it’s a mainly ground-dwelling bird that lives in spinifex (tunnelling into dense grass to lay eggs) in the inland parts of each state and territory (except Victoria). This small, short-tailed parrot keeps to itself, eating green seeds, emerging at dusk to drink from pools, and attempting to take flight to avoid predators or to find water. Ironically, for a nocturnal bird, its night vision is poor. It’s not a great flyer; in fact, its awkwardness, its dumpy body, seems at odds with its more successful cousin, the budgerigar (a similar mottled, yellow-green appearance, but diurnal, lighter weight, narrower wings, longer tail). The ‘night parakeet’ was, and is, an evolutionary loser.
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