Discovering the origins of sex from ancient fish fossils
Monday, 2 April 2012 from 6:30 PM to 8:30 PM (AEST)
About the talk:
The discovery of perfectly preserved 380 million year old fish fossils from the Gogo site in the Kimberley district of Western Australia has taught us many things about the evolution of vertebrates, but perhaps none is more surprising than the discovery of live bearing in the primitive, extinct armour-plated placoderms.
Further studies have revealed complex sexual dimorphism with males having unusual bony claspers for depositing sperm inside the female.John Long believes that such research redefines the crucial evolutionary stages at the beginning of our backboned lineage.
This entertaining and informative talk will have you reflecting on what it means to be human. At the end of the talk the Museum shop will be open for you to purchase John's latest book Hung like an Argentine Duck
About the speaker:
John is currently the Vice President of Research and Collections at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. John's interest in palaeontology dates back to when he collected his first fossils at the age of seven. Following postgraduate and postdoctoral studies, John worked at several Australian institutions before joining the Western Australian Museum in 1989 as Curator of Vertebrate Palaeontology.
John’s most prominent research at Museum Victoria has examined the evolution of prehistoric placoderm fishes, which were among the first vertebrates to evolve jaws. The fossils that he studies are more than 380 million years old and were discovered in the Gogo Formation of the Western Australian Kimberley region.
Using high-tech analysis such as CT scanning, John and his team have uncovered incredible anatomical details about these animals and discovered evidence of key evolutionary steps. These include “missing link” features between fishes and land animals in Gogonasus, and the oldest known live birth in Materpiscis. The latter discovery earned John the Australasian Science Prize and inclusion on the Top 10 list of new species of 2008.
John’s passion extends to communication of science to a variety of audiences. He has appeared on ABC’s science show Catalyst and his publications include illustrated books for children, contributions to the evolution vs intelligent design debate, and guides to extinct fauna. He will be speaking to school groups at the 2009 Melbourne Writer’s festival about fossils from around the world.
When & Where
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The Australian Museum is a place of exploration and discovery, inspiring responsibility for our world by promoting knowledge, understanding and enjoyment of science, nature and culture.
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