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Unit of study_

OLET1664: Science of Australia's Deadly Animals

Australia's biodiversity is globally celebrated for its unique beauty and distinctiveness. Australia also has a reputation for being home to some of the world's deadliest animals. This reputation, sometimes well earned, has created an aura of danger and mystique around Australia's native fauna. The purpose of this unit is to provide students with an appreciation of these animals and the skills to investigate organisms perceived as risks to humans. Completing modules on snakes, spiders, crocodiles, sharks, octopuses, jellyfish, insects, and ticks, you will assess and evaluate the evidence addressing key questions: Just how dangerous are Australian animals? How much of their deadly reputation is myth? Why, and how, do people get killed by these extraordinary animals? How well do we estimate the risks they pose? How does understanding of the science of how these animals operate help us manage the dangers they pose? You will learn about how the threats posed by different animals are a function of their behaviour, ecology, morphology and evolutionary history. You will also identify medical responses to these threats, examining the latest research and investigating how these advances have changed our perceptions of the risk posed by these animals. You will also reflect on the role these animals play in Australian culture, looking how they have been portrayed historically and how they are represented today. By completing this unit you will develop a deeper understanding of the evidence, knowledge gaps, and misconceptions that are behind the science of our most misunderstood animal groups; those that pose a threat to us.

Code OLET1664
Academic unit Life and Environmental Sciences Academic Operations
Credit points 2

At the completion of this unit, you should be able to:

  • LO1. Recognise the diversity of Australian animals perceived as threats to humans
  • LO2. Identify the risks posed by these Australian animals to humans
  • LO3. ​Interpret the science underpinning threats associated with iconic Australian species
  • LO4. Evaluate the reasons humans may be at risk from Australian animals and ways to minimize these risks
  • LO5. ​Understand the medicine behind the main approaches to treatment when Australian animals are encountered
  • LO6. Evaluate how misconceptions regarding dangerous animals are widely held, and how these are clarified, using and presenting the best available evidence to support the current understanding