Postponed until further notice
Giant Fossil Birds of Land and Sea
Welcome to the first Palaeo in the Pub of 2020!
We are starting the year big with our March
speakers, both endemic to the Flinders
Palaeontology Labs, and both researching giant
fossil birds of the land and sea. What benefits
does and increase in size have and why is it
selected for on vastly different environments?
Here is your chance to traverse the deserts of
central Australia and the seas of New Zealand
to find out.
Place: Flinders Tavern
Date: 26th March 2020
Associate Professor Trevor Worthy: In Search of Giant Birds
Once dubbed Mr Moa, I have spent 35 years searching for giant birds in Australasia. Inspired by the presence of giant bones in caves I began the quest in New Zealand. The extinct Moa had long been known and epitomise New Zealand’s claim as the Land of Birds, but knowledge of them, from the basics of their species diversity to their biology was rudimentary. My arrival in Australia some 15 years ago revealed knowledge of Australia’s own giant birds was not much better. The giant mihirungs were rare, and old, some millions of years old. And so my quest broadened, from the drenched forested landscapes of NZ to the arid deserts of Australia. In this talk, I will touch on the biological wonders that are giant birds and some of the adventures that this palaeontological quest has led to, and hopefully will show that while much has been learnt, much yet remains to be done.
Biography: Associate Professor Trevor Worthy is a palaeontologist specialising in research into fossil birds. Hailing from rural New Zealand, this passion originated when he joined the caving club at University and observed numerous fossil bones in caves. This led to a MSc on fossil frogs, and persistence led to work in the National Museum of NZ, surveying fossil deposits in caves. Then followed a decade of self-employment, with research contracts from the government, characterising the Quaternary history of NZ’s terrestrial vertebrates – read birds. In 2005, lack of a PhD caught up with him, and Trevor moved to Australia to fix that issue, and rejoined academia. Fifteen years on, Trevor has published extensively on the fossil birds and faunas of NZ, the Pacific and Australia. He now maintains this research programme from within the dynamic palaeo group at Flinders, where fossil enthusiasts abound.
Jacob flew over from across the ditch two years back to continue his passion of studying fossil birds. He began his journey at University of Canterbury and eventually made his way into the collections of Canterbury Museum, where he was first exposed to some of the oldest bird fossils attributed to modern groups—including the most archaic penguin bones. Since then, Jacob has dived deep into the evolution of these aquatic fliers, including completing a Masters and publishing in relation to some 62 million year old penguins from Chatham Island, New Zealand. Have you ever wondered what life might have been like in the relatively empty seas just after the extinction event that wiped out non-avian dinosaurs? Come and hear about the world’s oldest penguins, their remarkable diversity, and their colossal sizes.