Guess the wildlife species

It looks like a flying duck but what is it?

© Ken-ichi Ueda/Flickr/Creative Commons
© Ken-ichi Ueda/Flickr/Creative Commons

No prizes for guessing how the flying duck orchid (Caleana major) got its name.

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So uncanny is the similarity to its avian namesake that there is fun to be had trying to identify the precise species – and even the gender – of duck involved (any advance on male mallard?).

The only slight disappointment is that this remarkable Australian plant is not pollinated by waterfowl. The resemblance is apparently purely coincidental – it instead attracts male sawflies.

The species was first described from a specimen collected in 1803 from Bennelong Point, today the site of the Sydney Opera House.

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It can still be found in coastal habitats in Queensland, New South Wales and Tasmania.