Caught and Coloured: Zoology Illustrations from Colonial Victoria

McCoy's Zoology of Victoria

Frederick McCoy arrived in Victoria on board the Champion of the Seas in December 1854, taking up the position of Professor of Natural Science at the new University of Melbourne. The young colony offered this dapper and ambitious man opportunities that were unthinkable in Britain, for the son of a Catholic Irishman.

By dint of the force of his personality he moulded the new National Museum and was a powerful force in the acclimatisation movement. He also played an important role in interpreting Victoria's geological sequence, thereby identifying similarities to the geological profile with Europe.

A prolific publisher, McCoy's Prodromus of the Zoology of Victoria was intended to describe the fauna of the colony in two volumes. Along with scientific descriptions and lithographic plates, the volumes which made up the Prodromus were accompanied by his often idiosyncratic observations.

These images and accompanying commentary provide a window onto a cultural and natural environment very different from the landscape of today.

The Slate Pencil Urchin, Goniocidaris tubaria by John James Wild.