Keynote Lecture Videos

We invite you to enjoy Palaeo Down Under 2 Keynote Lectures at the University of Adelaide's YouTube Channel, by clicking on the following links:

Keynote Speakers


Mary was born in New York but spent summers as a kid playing in tide pools, fascinated by the marine invertebrates. She combined her interest in marine ecology with her love of geology to become a palaeontologist. She attended the University of Rochester, New York, for her undergraduate degree and then the University of Southern California for her PhD. She is currently a professor at the University of California, Riverside. Her research focuses on the advent  of animals, and interactions between organisms and their environments through time. She has been working for over 15 years on the Ediacara Biota.


Keynote lecture: Catching the second Ediacara wave: ecology and biology of the Ediacara Biota as recorded in South Australia

Abstract: Patterns of origination and evolution of early complex life are largely interpreted from the fossils of the Ediacara Biota. The iconic record of South Australia is a critical window to Ediacaran organisms after the reign of the rangeomorphs. Study of 30 beds within the Ediacara Member has demonstrated that this younger assemblage, as evidenced by dramatic development of body plans and ecospace utilisation, is a radiation in its own right. Notable aspects include remarkable increases in mobility, the appearance of undisputed bilaterians, the advent of sexual reproduction, the appearance of the first biomineralisers, the advent of active heterotrophy by multicellular organisms and the assembly of complex ecosystems, all attributes of modern animals.


Maoyan is a research professor at the Nanjing Institute of Geology and Palaeontology, Chinese Academy of Sciences (NIGPAS). He studied geology at the Changchun College of Geology and received his PhD in 1992 from NIGPAS. He was elected as an international corresponding member of the Academy of Science Göttingen, voting member of the International Subcommissions on Cambrian Stratigraphy (ISCS) and Ediacaran Stratigraphy (ISES), and chairman of the International Working Group on the Terreneuvian Series and Fortunian Stage (ISCS). His research interests have been in the area of the origin and early evolution of animals, focusing on Neoproterozoic and Cambrian palaeobiology, stratigraphy, sedimentology and palaeoenvironments.


Keynote lecture: From Snowball Earth to the Cambrian Explosion: recent research advances from China

Abstract: The Cryogenian to Cambrian time interval (720-520 Ma) records a critical transition in the evolutionary history of the Earth-Life system, which is marked by an extreme climatic event, the ‘snowball earth’, at the beginning; and a remarkable life evolutionary event, the ‘Cambrian explosion’, at the end. Successive, well exposed late Neoproterozoic to early Cambrian strata of South China, which yield numbers of extraordinarily well preserved fossil lagerstätten, provide invaluable information to unravel the evolutionary progress of the Earth-Life system during this critical interval. The talk will summarise recent research highlights in this field based on data from South China.


James is a palaeontologist employed at GNS Science and Victoria University, New Zealand. He has degrees from Otago and Cambridge universities. Much of his early research centred around the palaeobiology of Cretaceous inoceramid bivalves and the Cretaceous geological evolution of New Zealand. More recently, he has been exploring macroevolutionary patterns in Palaeozoic graptolites, Southern Ocean Neogene diatoms and New Zealand Cenozoic molluscs. A common thread through much of this research has been the quantitative description of palaeontological data - from the mathematical description of biological form, to quantitative stratigraphy, to the quantification of macroevolutionary patterns.


Keynote lecture: Extinction in Palaeozoic zooplankton: resolving revolution, respite and reversal

Abstract: Over long time spans, is survivorship controlled primarily by biotic, species-species interactions or by external environmental factors, and how do these fundamental drivers vary through time and space? We tackle this problem at unprecedented temporal resolution using a global dataset that spans the entire lifespan of the major Palaeozoic zooplankton group, the graptolites, which occupied the largest biome on the planet. Results to date suggest that major features of graptolite species extinction history were controlled primarily by abiotic factors and that extinction selectivity varied or even reversed on very short timescales (<< 1 million years). A simple biotic/abiotic control dichotomy, however, is overly simplistic and the data require more nuanced interrogation. In this presentation we will explore the drivers, rates, pacing and impacts of extinction in this major group across the full spectrum of extinction intensities.
This Keynote address is the result of collaboration between J.S. Crampton, R.A. Cooper (GNS Science, New Zealand), P.M. Sadler (University of California, Riverside) and M. Foote (University of Chicago).


Scott is a museum-based vertebrate palaeoecologist, science communicator and 3D digitisation and virtual technology practitioner. He started at the Queensland Museum in 1990 as a 12-year-old volunteer. In 2000 his dream job as a palaeontologist with Queensland Museum came true, making him then the youngest museum curator in Australia at age 22. Scott is an advocate for strong regional and remote connections between museums, and for bringing the behind-the-scenes of museum collections and science to the public. He is passionate about applying new technologies to museum collections to better interpret and demonstrate our geo-heritage. He is currently working on new 3D digital and virtual ways to capture our fossil heritage in digital perpetuity, as well as to conduct robust research and engage the public by providing more in-depth experiences with Australia’s fossil heritage.


Keynote lecture: From dig to digital dinosaurs!

Abstract: After 15 years of digging for dinosaurs in Australia, what have I learnt? We’ve found, dug and prepared more dinosaur fossils than ever before thanks to dedicated citizen scientists at non-profit museums and organisations. The journey has not been easy but it has provided opportunities previously impossible, especially regional employment. Amazing new 3D digital technologies are helping researchers communicate their discoveries, which will see an exciting jump in research and engagement with the public in the near future. But, seriously, what have I really learnt? Nothing beats finding a meat-eating dinosaur - and driving a thirty tonne excavator is awesome!


Mike was born in Sydney but grew up in the USA where he graduated from Princeton University in 1967. After returning to Australia he completed his PhD at the University of Western Australia. He has been Curator of Mammals at the Queensland Museum, Director of the Australian Museum, Dean of Science at UNSW and Professor in the Pangea Research Centre at UNSW. His research projects include the World Heritage fossil deposits at Riversleigh, conservation of the living biota based on fossil data, and highly innovative efforts to resurrect extinct species. He has over 300 scientific publications, awards and fellowships to his credit.


Keynote lecture: Gains, gaps and gags: Riversleigh’s growing contributions to unravelling the past, present & future of Australia

Abstract: Riversleigh’s 24-million-year-long World Heritage fossil record from northwestern Queensland has involved over 100 researchers from 26 institutions in 11 countries. The results have more than trebled our knowledge of Australian pre-Quaternary vertebrate palaeodiversity and provided a new, radiometrically dated succession that will serve as a solid basis for establishing a biocorrelative framework for Australia’s mid- to late Cenozoic fossil deposits. Compared with living and other fossil faunal assemblages, Riversleigh’s are uniquely biodiverse and extraordinarily well preserved. The time range these deposits cover encompasses two rounds of climate change and provides new palaeoconservation insights into how we might better conserve endangered living species.