X Ray

Review: Radiology of Australian Mammals

The Book: Radiology of Australian Mammals
The Editors: Larry Vogelnest & Graeme Allan

Australia’s mammals are incredible. Having been isolated on our dry, desolate continent for so long, they have been afforded ample opportunity to evolve and adapt. Some of the best evidence of this is located within the newly published Radiology of Australian Mammals.

Despite being closely related, on the outside echidnas and platypuses look nothing alike - such are the adaptations required for their very different lifestyles. However, digging a little deeper under the skin (literally), there are some similarities between them. Indeed, as revealed by x-rays, our monotremes also share some anatomical structures with birds and reptiles, harking back to old evolutionary lineages.  

Even to someone with little background in mammal morphology and health, the x-ray images within Radiology of Australian Mammals are incredible. Particularly striking are the monotremes – the intricate detail of a platypus, or the beautiful quill shadows on the echidnas. Further, the similarity of bone structures within the dasyurid family (e.g. antechinuses, quolls and Tasmanian devils) is quite striking, despite the large variation of sizes between species. Some of these comparisons are even more outstanding as three dimensional CT-scan images.

Aside from being a book one can simply browse through, marveling at the images, Radiology of Australian Mammals has a lot to offer from a technical aspect as well. Vogelnest and Allen have collected sample radiographs and diagnoses across nearly all families of Australian mammals, including both healthy and injured specimens. This is ultimately where the text’s strength lies: in providing the first comprehensive reference material for Australian mammal radiography.

A reference text such as this is incredibly timely too, given the increased number of road trauma events and other incidences causing injury to Australia’s native species. Such is the variation in Australia’s mammals (compare the anatomy of a microbat with a sugar glider, for example), Radiology of Australian Mammals is a vital reference for those providing medical attention to native species. This is in addition to a clear and thorough description of correct radiographic technique and other diagnostic procedures.

Many readers will find Radiology of Australian Mammals useful, from veterinary practitioners and wildlife carers to those interested in how the anatomy of Australia’s mammals has evolved over time. Indeed, nearly all readers will be able to marvel at the unique way in which Vogelnest and Allen bring the diversity of Australian mammals to life.

This book belongs on your bookshelf if… you’ve ever wondered what the insides of Australia’s mammals looks like, or have a general interest in animal morphology and medicine.

Cover image is an excerpt from the text (Wombat cross section), courtesy of CSIRO Publishing