Mammal of the year
At last, an election you can actually get excited to vote about: Australian Mammal of the Year.
What’s your favourite Australian mammal? Wombat? Kangaroo? Possum? Or something less known, like a dunnart or a dibbler?
Of course we all love voting in the annual Australian Bird of the Year poll (run by Guardian Australia and Birdlife Australia). For the more botanically inclined, there’s Eucalypt Australia’s Eucalyptus of the Year as well.
But we at Cosmos feel that our feathered and leafy friends have had the spotlight to themselves for a little too long.
Australia is home to incredible mammals. There are over 350 officially described native species in Australia, with the vast majority being endemic: found nowhere else in the world.
Australia is also one of very few places to host all three main branches of the mammalian evolutionary tree: monotremes (think echidnas and platypuses), marsupials (kangaroos and koalas), and placental mammals. They also fulfil a dizzying diversity of ecological niches and roles – from ecosystemengineering bandicoots to nativeplant-pollinating gliders to scavenging Tasmanian devils.
Sadly, Australia also has one of the highest rates of overall biodiversity loss among wealthy countries, and we know that at least 34 mammal species have become extinct since European arrival.
We think Australian mammals deserve a bit of love and attention, so we’re launching our Australian Mammal of the Year
poll. Over the next few months on our website we’ll be publishing stories from mammal enthusiasts spruiking their favourite species, sharing amazing facts and endearing characteristics and trying to win your vote.
There are some familiar (often furry) faces among the candidates, but also opportunities to learn about lesser-known and underappreciated species – and let’s not forget the marine mammals, like dugongs and many loved whales. Who knows, you might even find a new favourite mammal to call your own.
Visit cosmosmagazine.com to read about our charismatic compatriots and nominate your own favourite Australian mammal species – or email us at email@example.com to tell us your pick.
And for bonus fun, check out the Australasian Mammal Taxonomy Consortium’s Australian Mammals Species List as a great place to discover more species to celebrate.