Welcome! ….to the Flinders Palaeontology Society’s (FUPS) blog. Here you’ll find all the latest happenings in and around the lab, together with advance notice of palaeo-related events. The members of our research group study a wide range of fields including the evolution of Australia’s unique fauna, the ecological and biodiversity changes of the region through time, the early evolution of vertebrates, molecular palaeobiology, systematics and macroevolution, especially of fossil and living reptiles, and the taxonomy, phylogeny and evolution of fossil birds, all of which encompasses timescales from the Cambrian to the Holocene.
So let’s get the ball rolling and introduce you to the team starting with our leader:-
(Photo and edited extract from Prof. Prideaux’s biography featured on Flinders University website).
PROFESSOR GAVIN PRIDEAUX:
I study links between patterns in Australian mammal evolution, ecology and extinction, and climate, and human, driven environmental changes. My students and I spend weeks in the field every year digging up old bones, often from caves, and exploring the contents of museum drawers. We work with experts in many different fields, including archaeologists, geologists and molecular biologists.
During second and third year of a BSc I was introduced to evolution, palaeontology and the Australian biota. I studied kangaroo evolution for a PhD, then completed postdocs (junior research internships) at the University of California, Naracoorte Caves and Western Australian Museum, before returning in 2007 to reanimate palaeontology at Flinders following the retirement of Prof Rod Wells.
Today, Flinders Palaeontology occupies a suite of purpose-built, centrally-located labs and offices opened in 2014. We have five academic staff, including a Strategic Professor, a Matthew Flinders Fellow, a Vice-chancellor’s Research Fellow and an ARC Future Fellow, as well as an ARC DECRA Fellow, eight research and technical staff, and 18 PhD and Honours students. Our dynamic, diverse, highly interactive group continues to lead research into deep-time evolutionary patterns and processes, and the past and potential future effects of environmental changes on biotas. We regularly make ground-breaking discoveries that attract international attention.
Gavin captains a happy ship, which is apparent in the good turnout at the fortnightly lab meetings, and the willingness of everyone (Professors included) to ‘pitch-in’ when a job needs doing, such as emptying a trailer full of bags of sediment recently returned from a dig. The lab, although staffed by a diverse range of individuals, runs as a team. Success for one is pride for all.
I’ll introduce you to another member of our team soon. Also coming up is the story of how our preparator, Carey Burke, extracted an exquisitely preserved Devonian fish from a limestone nodule. It’s a breathtaking example of the preparator’s art. Watch this space.