Dr KARL SHUKER

Zoologist, media consultant, and science writer, Dr Karl Shuker is also one of the best known cryptozoologists in the world. Author of such seminal works as Mystery Cats of the World (1989), The Lost Ark: New and Rediscovered Animals of the 20th Century (1993; greatly expanded in 2012 as The Encyclopaedia of New and Rediscovered Animals), In Search of Prehistoric Survivors (1995), and more recently Extraordinary Animals Revisited (2007), Dr Shuker's Casebook (2008), Karl Shuker's Alien Zoo: From the Pages of Fortean Times (2010), Cats of Magic, Mythology, and Mystery (2012), and Mirabilis: A Carnival of Cryptozoology and Unnatural History (2013), his many fans have been badgering him to join the blogosphere for years. The CFZ Blog Network is proud to have finally persuaded him to do so.

Dr Karl Shuker's Official Website - http://www.karlshuker.com

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Tuesday, 10 December 2013

MIDAS MARSUPIALS - THE GOLDEN WONDER OF GOLDEN WOMBATS


Icy (on left, held by Senior Keeper Karen Davis) and Polar (on right, held by Education Officer Claire Peterson) - two golden-furred specimens of southern hairy-nosed wombat housed at Cleland Wildlife Park, Adelaide (© Tricia Watkinson/Newspix/Rex Features)


Willy Wonka had his much sought-after Golden Tickets, but Cleland Wildlife Park in Adelaide, South Australia, has something even rarer – golden wombats! The southern hairy-nosed wombat Lasiorhinus latifrons normally has black, brown, or grey fur. However, Icy and Polar both sport an astonishingly beautiful, bright golden pelage, as if King Midas from classical Greek mythology had gifted them with his gold-transforming touch.

These two bear-like but herbivorous marsupials are three-and-a-half years old, arriving at the park after having been found in the wild six months apart of each another and raised afterwards in a rescue centre. Their golden colouration, a phenomenon known as flavism, is the result of a mutant gene allele. Yet although aesthetically exquisite, it makes such wombats very visible in the wild and therefore highly vulnerable to predators. Consequently, very few specimens ever survive, and there is only one other golden wombat in captivity.

So Icy and Polar (although surely Goldie and Sunny might be more apt names for them?) are extremely special and highly-prized by the park, whose staff hope that they will breed when older (despite their shared golden hue, they are not related to one other).

Illustration from 1865 depicting two normal-coloured specimens of the southern hairy-nosed wombat (Joseph Wolf)





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