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 cosmosmaga­ to read about our charismati­c compatriot­s and nominate your own favourite Australian mammal species – or email us at contribute@cosmosmaga­ 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.

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 ?? ?? Honour the humpback, elevate the antechinus or nominate the numbat. What’s your favourite Australian mammal?
Honour the humpback, elevate the antechinus or nominate the numbat. What’s your favourite Australian mammal?
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