Exploring Australia’s Guinness Book of evolutionary records

Australia’s world-first evolutionary discoveries will be showcased in a public lecture at The University of Queensland next week.

Renowned palaeontologist Professor Michael Archer will be in Brisbane on Tuesday October 8, to deliver the lecture ‘Life, Sex, Songs, Scrat and the Sponge: Australia’s Guinness Book of Evolutionary Records’ as part of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology Conference.

Fellow palaeontologist and event coordinator, UQ’s Dr Gilbert Price , said Australia was far from being an evolutionary backwater when it comes to discoveries about life on Earth.

“Australia really punches above its weight,” he said.

“We have the oldest physical evidence of life, the first animals, first predators, the first evidence of sexual intercourse, first necks, and the first ‘proto-tetrapod’,” he said.

“We’ve got more discoveries than you can poke a stick at.

“We also boast some of the earliest forests, biggest dinosaur, some of the largest-ever birds, the world’s only ‘drop crocs’, the strongest biting mammalian carnivore, the only triple vagina and double penis mammals, the world’s tallest trees and many other incredible creatures.”

Dr Price said Professor’s Archer’s lecture would be enthralling for young and old, touching on some of the nation’s most incredible - and sometimes overlooked - evolutionary discoveries.

“Professor Archer is at the top of the field when it comes to palaeontology,” he said.

“He’s a brilliant speaker who knows how to communicate science in a way that is accessible for everyone, from eight to 80.

“Attendees should get ready to discover some of the big hitting, unique, and world-record breaking animals that once called Australia home.”

Hosting the 2019 Society of Vertebrate Paleontology Conference is a boon for Australian science -palaeontologists and the wider scientific community consider it a world-renowned event.

“This is the largest society of its type on the planet,” Dr Price said.

“The event will be only the third meeting held outside North America, and the first in the Southern Hemisphere, in the Society’s nearly 80 year history.

“Visiting researchers will discuss how our early fishy ancestors stepped out of their ancient ponds and onto the land, how and why the dinosaurs snuffed it and debate the causes of the extinction of the ‘Ice Age’ giant animals that ruled our planet until recent times.

“If you’re interested in science, history or just want to expand your mind, this is the place to be.”

‘Life, Sex, Songs, Scrat and the Sponge: Australia’s Guinness Book of Evolutionary Records’ will be presented by Professor Michael Archer at 6:30pm on Tuesday October 8 at the GHD Auditorium in UQ’s Advanced Engineering Building (Building 49) at UQ’s St Lucia campus.

RSVP is essential and free tickets can be secured via the event’s Eventbrite page.

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