Palaeo in the Pub- Megafauna and Palaeoclimates

Come join Flinders University Palaeontology Society for another illuminating evening of palaeo science talks, enjoyed in the casual and comfortable surroundings of The Tav @ Flinders University. Thursday March 28th @ 6:30 pm.

Director of Palaeontology at Flinders University, Professor Gavin Prideaux has spent lots of time in the field, often in the bottom of caves, digging up fossils of Australia’s unique extinct megafauna, and exploring dusty drawers in museum cabinets. His research interests include investigating the links between patterns in Australian mammal evolution, ecology and extinction, and climate- and human-driven environmental changes. His talk will focus on resolving when and why Australia’s megafauna became extinct.

Associate Professor John Tibby, Director of the Sprigg Geobiology Centre at the University of Adelaide, researches past climates and environments, mainly in eastern Australia. A major thrust of this research has been finding ways to understand the independent influence of climate and humans on the landscape. For the past decade or so he has led a project examining the environmental history of the subtropics using records of environmental change from North Stradbroke Island,. south-east Queensland. This talk will focus on discussing the 80,000 year long record from one of these sites – Welsby Lagoon.

Haidee Cadd, PhD candidate, Earth Sciences @ University of Adelaide, is a palaeoecologist interested in understanding how fire, climate and herbivory have interacted to shape Australia’s vegetation. Understanding how vegetation responds to changes in disturbance and climate over long time scales helps contribute to conservation efforts and predicating future changes. Her talk will focus on environmental changes in response to fire and climate from Welsby Lagoon, North Stradbroke Island.

This is a FREE event.
Free nibbles will be provided. Happy Hour Beer Prices. 
Bring your gold coins and try your luck at a raffle for sweet FUPS merch.

See you there!

Palaeo in the Pub with Prof Rod Wells and Dr Aaron Camens

Deserts, lakes and ancient rivers: the search for the ancestral marsupials

6pm, Thursday 14th September
Flinders University Tavern

Guest speakers Professor Rod Wells, the founding father of Palaeontology at Flinders University; and Dr Aaron Camens, lecturer in Vertebrate Palaeontology; will be showering us with tales of their experiences of central South Australian Desert landscapes, and the awe-inspiring fossils found within them.

Now in his late seventies Rod Wells continues to lead a rich and rewarding life steeped in science and natural history. Engineer turned zoologist turned palaeontologist Rod will chat about his fascination with the giant extinct marsupials of Australia and his journey of exploration across Australia’s desert landscapes in search of their bones..

Following in Rod’s footsteps, Aaron Camens has been introduced to many of the fossil localities in arid South Australia that help us unravel the evolutionary history of our iconic fauna. Aaron’s research currently focuses on these central Australian sites and he is extracting new information from the collections made by Rod and his contemporaries. He will talk about his experiences collecting fossils from some of the most remote parts of the state and new discoveries Flinders palaeontologists have been making in Central Australia.

This event is free, bring a friend.
Due to the venue, suitable only for ages 18+
Parking is free from 6pm

Nibbles will be provided!

Please RSVP by 5pm Tuesday 12 September so that we can cater accordingly.

 

FUPS presents another classic movie!

  FREE MOVIE NIGHT!

Don’t miss it! Put the date in your diary. FUPS presents the 1954 3D cult classic,

‘CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON’

6.15pm Thursday 15th June

Multimedia Room, Flinders University Hub

$2.00 Popcorn – $2.00 Ice creams

Entry: FREE!

With guest speaker Professor John Long discussing where the movie’s scientists got it wrong! The creature is real and the Professor knows the who/what/when and where…

Antarctica: Past, Present and Futures

Save the date!

On June 21st, Flinders University Palaeontology Society are collaborating with The Royal Society of South Australia, RiAus (Royal Institution of Australia) and Adelaide Festival of Ideas to bring you…

Antarctica: Past, Present and Futures

6 – 7:30pm Wednesday 21st June

The Science Exchange, 55 Exchange Place, Adelaide

With speakers all recently returned from Antarctica!

Professor John Long, Flinders University Palaeontologist @LongJohnFossil

Paul Willis, RiAus Director and @Fossilcrox expert

Sean Williams, 2017 Antarctic Arts Fellowship recipient and author @AdelaideSean

Get your tickets now! The event is free but you will need to book! *get in quick*

2017 Annual General Meeting

Hey folks,

It’s that time of year again! Flinders Palaeo Society are due for our Annual General Meeting (AGM) to elect this years committee members, and open the floor to suggestions for 2017 events, merchandise or Beer’N’Bones articles.

5:30 pm Friday 21st April 
BBQ Area between the Biology Buildings, Bedford Park Campus
 
If anyone would like to nominate for a committee position, please let us know ahead of time so that we can encourage people to come and meet you before and during the AGM elections. This years exec’ roles (President, Vice President, Treasurer and Secretary) will be anonymously balloted if more than one candidate nominates for a role, other positions are open to multiple candidates. If you have any suggestions/feedback for discussion at the meeting, drop us an email ASAP so that we can add it to the agenda.
 
We will have a few nibbles and the usual soft and not-so-soft drinks in the esky.
 
See you there!

Field trip! March Long Weekend (11th-13th)

If you’re keen on getting some hands on field work experience, listen up!

We are heading to to the Flinders Ranges area over the Adelaide Cup long weekend in March to explore and map out new fossil sites along a creek line. Both Pleistocene and Pliocene fossils have previously been found in the area but never properly mapped or planned for excavation. This trip will involve searching for new sites, mapping and collection of fossils.

Participants are required to bring their own camping gear and food, the option to stay in the Hawker Caravan park is also 30kms away. Children 12 years and older that are accompanied by a parent are also welcome.

If you want more information or are thinking of coming along, send us an email ASAP to flinderspalaeo@gmail.com

Christmas brewery visit Sunday 11th December

With the year winding up, we thought we’d throw one more event into your packed calendar to round out the year, a visit to the Little Bang Brewery. It will just be a casual get together, but the brewers have said they’ll give us a little tour if we want. Check out their website, they even have mini golf and bowls!

We will be meeting about 2pm this Sunday, the 11th of December. Feel free to send us an RSVP so we can give them some rough numbers, but also feel free to just rock up. Be aware that parking is tight so bus or carpooling with buddies might be handy.

Put Ya Back Into It! Unearthing the Flinders University Palaeontology Society

On an idyllic autumnal day on the playing fields of Flinders, two cricket teams gather under azure skies to compete for a shovel. The Diggers’ Shield, to give the shovel its proper title, is the annual match pitting the Palaeontology Society against the Archaeology Society. What was the outcome of this match, you ask? Did the Palaeos make it five shovels on the trot or did the Archies breakthrough for their first victory?

I caught up with self-professed cricket and palaeontology nerd Sam Arman, to chat about the branch of science that has captivated him for as long as he can remember, and the unique contribution the Flinders University Palaeontology Society (FUPS) makes to Australian palaeontology.

Sam has been involved with FUPS since 2007. As an enthusiastic board member, he is a regular participant in the society’s principle activities, field trips. These trips range from weekenders close to Adelaide to month-long expeditions to Alcoota, Northern Territory, in the mid-semester break. No matter the distance travelled or the length of time, Sam assures me that these trips are all about getting down and dirty – digging and sifting all day in the quest for fossils.

Sam outlines the aims of the society, ‘We try to bridge the gap between amateurs who are interested in palaeontology and researchers and academics. It is a very popular science but there are not many opportunities for amateurs to participate in it. We provide people an opportunity to get stuck into field work. In turn, this enables researchers to get the most out of the society by providing them access to free labour.’ Collaborating with museums and high schools, FUPS reaches beyond the traditional university boundary to involve anyone with a passion for Palaeontology.

And what exactly is Palaeontology? Sam tells us, ‘It’s a blanket term that covers any information about past life – fossils, foot prints, past climate, geology – that provide insight into how life has evolved and changed. It is a world of dinosaurs and giant mammals –including those freaking giant marsupials. Technological advances and climate change combine to constantly reveal new discoveries. Sam illustrates this point, ‘Recently, palaeontologists have been able to analyse skin samples of mummified mammoths, found beneath newly melted permafrost in Siberia, and have determined their haemoglobin was altered to survive their freezing climate.’

In Australia, palaeontologists study the alteration to the environment caused by the arrival of the first people 50,000 to 60,000 years ago, and European arrival 200 years ago, to understand the effects humanity had on the environment and try to feed into today’s animal management. ‘For example, bettongs are now found in fragmented communities but they originally inhabited a vast expanse of the continent,’ Sam explains.

Australia was a comparative latecomer to Palaeontological research. There used to be a cultural-cringe where any fossil discoveries were shipped off to Europe or the USA for examination. However by the 1950s, palaeontologists started coming to Australia to conduct field research. At this point, Australian Palaeontology was kick-started. Sam says ‘this means we have way more fossils in situ and the ability to apply the latest techniques to them when they are unearthed.’

In the highly factionalised Palaeontology world, Sam admits he is a card carrying member of marsupials’ team. The conversation then ranges across unearthing fossils of the long extinct mega fauna – diprotodons (like a truck size wombat) and thylacoleo (marsupial lion) to the more recently departed thylacene (Tassie tiger). As for the media hype about using cloning tech to bring back the thylacene, Sam would prefer us to ‘better look after what we have left before we attempt to bring back more.’ He explains, ‘there’s more to it than cloning. Nature and nurture factors need to be considered and the genetic variability would not be sufficiently diverse to sustain the species. Further, thylacenes were a plains animal, therefore if they were still around, their natural habitat has been destroyed.’

And why should new students join FUPS? Sam grins, ‘It’s an awesome way to get away from the city and dig up an animal that used to exist. If you are interested in Australian history or biology, there is no better way of getting an understanding of the place.’

Sam then steps me through the field trip routine. ‘We car pool up to a town close to the site. We meet at a bakery, convoy out to the site, and set up camp. Next morning we get up, shake off hang-overs, and review the site – checking for erosion and other things that have happened since we were last there. We then uncover the site and excavate all day. We repeat the process every day until we scurry back to town. I have great memories from the field work: my discoveries, what other people find, being out in the field drinking beer as the sun sets.’

Not surprisingly, the name of FUPS’ magazine reflects the members’ shared passions. ‘Beer and Bones is a semi-irregular publication which provides news about what Flinders Palaeo are up to, articles from international researchers and, to satisfy the name requirements, craft beer reviews,’ Sam explains.

Away from the field work and the magazine, the society conducts master classes where visiting researchers demonstrate techniques and, open lab visits. Then there are the social fun times such as the annual FUPcakes fundraising stall and the Diggers’ Shield.

Speaking of which, who did win that cricket match? You’ll need to dig into that story for yourself, dear reader.

Richard Falkner, 52 not out, Bachelor of Creative Arts (Creative Writing)