Todiramphus macleayii or forest kingfisher wings

Mammals & Birds

Explore Queensland Museum’s extensive collection of mammals and birds and discover our research in mammalogy and ornithology.


The mammals and bird collections at Queensland Museum are a critical resource for understanding and conserving some of Australia’s most high profile and threatened animals.

Scientific study

Mammalogy is the scientific study of mammals.  Australia is unique in being the only continent where all three major groups of mammal occur, specifically monotremes, marsupials and placentals.

Ornithology is the scientific study of birds. Nearly 900 species of bird have been recorded in Australia. These range in size from giant flightless Emus to tiny colourful fairy wrens. Australia has a particularly diverse assemblages of parrots and honeyeaters, and is also now famous the source area for the world’s most diverse and successful group of birds – the Passerines.


Collection highlights

The mammal and bird collections together comprises over 50,000 specimens including skeletons, skins and ethanol preserved bodies. The collection includes several species or populations that are very rare or extinct. Prominent examples include the Mt Lewis populations of the Lemuroid Ringtail Possum, Coxen’s Fig Parrot, Paradise Parrot, Burrowing Bettongs and perhaps most famously, the Night Parrot.

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Research overview

The mammal and bird collection is used by dozens of researchers and artists each year. This work serves to continually improve our understanding of diversity, evolution, ecology and conservation of Queensland’s animals, and increasingly takes advantage of exciting modern techniques such as ancient DNA and genomics, CT- and surface-scanning and even radio-isotopic analyses of diet.


Origin and evolution of Australasian birds

  • Kieren Mitchell, Andrew Hugall, Holly Heiniger, Leo Joseph, Paul Oliver (2021). Disparate origins for endemic bird taxa from the ‘Gondwana Rainforests’ of Central Eastern Australia. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 134 (1), 40-56.
  • Andrew N Iwaniuk, Aubrey R Keirnan, Heather Janetzki, Karine Mardon, Stephen Murphy, Nicholas P Leseberg, Vera Weisbecker (2020). The endocast of the Night Parrot (Pezoporus occidentalis) reveals insights into its sensory ecology and the evolution of nocturnality in birds. Scientific Reports 10 (1) 1-9.
  • Paul Oliver, Holly Heiniger, Andrew Hugall, Leo Joseph, Kieren Mitchell (2020). Oligocene divergence of frogmouth birds (Podargidae) across Wallace's Line. Biology Letters 16 (5), 20200040.
  • Martin Irestedt, Per Ericson, Ulrich Johansson, Paul Oliver, Leo Joseph, Mozes Blom. (2019). No Signs of Genetic Erosion in a 19th Century Genome of the Extinct Paradise Parrot (Psephotellus pulcherrimus). Diversity 11 (4), 58.

Diversity, ecology and conservation of Australian Mammals

  • Janet M. Lanyon, Heather Janetzki (2016). Mortalities of southern right whales (Eubalaena australis) in a subtropical wintering ground, Southeast Queensland. Aquatic Mammals, 42 (4), 470-475. doi: 10.1578/AM.42.4.2016.470.
  • David Benfer, Andrew M. Baker, Tina Ball, Ian Gynther, Heather Janetzki and Susan Fuller (2014). Conservation genetics of the water mouse, Xeromys myoides Thomas, 1889. Australian Journal of Zoology 62(5) 382-392

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From identifying animals to learning about the weird and the wonderful objects you find, our team is ready to help!

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Did you know you don't have to come to the museum to see our collection?

Over 1 million specimens are now accessible from our biodiversity collection online for free. All you need is your device and a little bit of inspiration to explore Queensland’s cultural and natural heritage.

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