David Rabbitborough's A to Z of Australian Species



There are many noxious species in Australia that present problems to the environment. One of these which has been largely brought under control in the last few years is the student. Once upon a time students were a delicate, exotic breed that flourished mainly in the rarefied atmosphere of universities. They lived for the most part on biscuits, tea and mouldy books. Then in the 1960's a radical mutation occurred. Almost overnight the traditional student Discipuli Esoterica was overtaken by a new breed Rhetoricus Hirsute, or the student radical.

These large hairy creatures lived on a diet of cappuccini and South American newspapers and swallowed large chunks of Marxist propaganda whole. A highly aggressive creature, the Student become prone to marking out its territory with spray cans and attacking public buildings en masse. For several years hardly a day passed when roving packs of Rhetoricus were not to be seen marching down city streets, chanting, waving and setting fire to themselves.

Finally, when they had reached plague proportions the Government instituted a scheme to eradicate them. This scheme employed a series of traps in the form of highly paid jobs into which the students quickly moved. Once lured by the bait, they quickly shed their long hair, beads and flares to become grey pinstriped policy advisers and consultants. The scheme worked remarkably well and, with these influences removed, students have once more returned to being shy creatures spending most of their time in libraries and classrooms.


Amongst the various environments habituated by Students is the lost world known as the University or, as it has often been called, "The Irrelevants Graveyard."

The dominant species of this dusty, musty region are called University Lecturers, dull brown creatures that live tucked away in tiny holes ruminating over bits and pieces. They have grown accustomed to not seeing daylight for years at a time, which has caused them to evolve pale skin and wide, staring eyes. Their hair grows long and wild and the elbows of the male develop thick leathery pads.

The University Lecturer is a strange creature that performs the same rote actions year after year, even uttering the same words in the same sequence for decades. But underneath this torpid exterior a battle rages, for life in the ecological bubble of the university is a constant struggle for survival, each lecturer continually striving to maintain it own position and enlarge it area of influence.

Sexually they are complex. Some have the characteristic of continually trying to mate with the other occupants of the zone, the Students. Others seem incapable of mating with anything. Some seem to exhibit both characteristics at the same time. The university environment is a fragile world and special efforts are now being made to preserve it for experience has shown that University Lecturers rarely survive when transported to the outside world.

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