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!

FUPS CAVEPS2017 Student Award

Provides financial assistance covering the Archaeopteryx deal (Super-early bird) registration. Open to any FUPS member that is currently a student and is presenting at CAVEPS2017. The recipient(s) will be chosen by the FUPS committee at random during March 2017, and finances will be refunded during this period. Please ensure initial payment is received when registering for CAVEPS2017.

To be eligible for this award you must meet the following criteria:

  • Currently a member of Flinders University Palaeontology Society (or join with application, membership fee is paid up to date, including duration of conference).
  • Currently an enrolled student (any tertiary institution in Australasia).
  • Required to acknowledge the receipt of the award in your student presentation. We will provide a high-res logo for your powerpoint.
  • Required to write up a summary article of your CAVEPS2017 experience for the following Beer’N’Bones issue (roughly 500-1000 words, 2-3 pages and a few ‘happy snaps’.

If you are interested in applying, please drop us an email to

You will need to include your name, current project details (Honours/PhD), institution, submitted presentation abstract, and the receipt as proof of Archaeopteryx registration. If after receiving the award, for some reason you are no longer able to attend, notify us and the conference registrars immediately.

Names we be drawn out of a hat in March and the winner notified by email, good luck!

*Applications have now closed*

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

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.

Masterclass: Dating in the Quaternary

3:00 – 4:00 pm Fri Nov 4th
Flinders University
Lecture theatre South 1.

Henri Garon, geochronology PhD candidate from Adelaide University, will be giving a masterclass focusing on different dating methods available for the study of the Quaternary (2.58 million years to present).

After a brief reminder on the chronology of the Quaternary, Henri will cover the general principles underlying a number of dating methods, with emphasis on what is actually datable with each method and how it relates to the events we are interested in dating.  Following this overview of the methods, their chronological range, and the supports on which they can be applied, Henri will look a little deeper at the inner workings and principles underlying the optically stimulated dating of sediments.

This talk will be of interest to palaeontologists, archaeologists and anyone interested in Quaternary science. All are welcome.


We will sojourn at the Flinders University Tavern after the talk.


Free Movie Night!

Everyone is invited! Bring your friends down to Flinders University campus South 1 Lecture Theatre at 6pm, Thursday 6th of October. We will make sure we have pizzas to cater for vegos/vegans and enough soft drinks to share around.

Parking on campus is free from 5pm, the closest parking spots are 7, 8 and 9 all off Biology Road.

See you there!



The first #PalaeointhePub event kicks off this afternoon at the Flinders Tavern with a Bone Box presentation from Carey Burke, Flinders’ Palaeo Preparator. All members of the society and the general public are invited to come on down and see Flinders Palaeo’s primary outreach program strut it’s stuff.

Nibbles will be provided while aspiring palaeontologists have the chance to chat with fellow students, lecturers and academics. The event starts at 5 pm and is free of charge (although feel free to buy me a beer).

See you all there,

Kailah (President)

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)