Adelaide, Australia
Adelaide, Australia

The South Australian Museum is a natural history museum and research institution in Adelaide, South Australia, founded in 1856. It occupies a complex of buildings on North Terrace in the cultural precinct of the Adelaide Parklands. Wikipedia.


Time filter

Source Type

News Article | April 21, 2017
Site: www.chromatographytechniques.com

The most comprehensive study on the bones of Homo floresiensis, a species of tiny human discovered on the Indonesian island of Flores in 2003, has found that they most likely evolved from an ancestor in Africa and not from Homo erectus as has been widely believed. The study by The Australian National University (ANU) found Homo floresiensis, dubbed "the hobbits" due to their small stature, were most likely a sister species of Homo habilis -- one of the earliest known species of human found in Africa 1.75 million years ago. Data from the study concluded there was no evidence for the popular theory that Homo floresiensis evolved from the much larger Homo erectus, the only other early hominid known to have lived in the region with fossils discovered on the Indonesian mainland of Java. Study leader Debbie Argue of the ANU School of Archaeology & Anthropology, said the results should help put to rest a debate that has been hotly contested ever since Homo floresiensis was discovered. "The analyses show that on the family tree, Homo floresiensis was likely a sister species of Homo habilis. It means these two shared a common ancestor," Argue said. "It's possible that Homo floresiensis evolved in Africa and migrated, or the common ancestor moved from Africa then evolved into Homo floresiensis somewhere." Homo floresiensis is known to have lived on Flores until as recently as 54,000 years ago. The study was the result of an Australian Research Council grant in 2010 that enabled the researchers to explore where the newly-found species fits in the human evolutionary tree. Where previous research had focused mostly on the skull and lower jaw, this study used 133 data points ranging across the skull, jaws, teeth, arms, legs and shoulders. Argue said none of the data supported the theory that Homo floresiensis evolved from Homo erectus. "We looked at whether Homo floresiensis could be descended from Homo erectus," she said. "We found that if you try and link them on the family tree, you get a very unsupported result. All the tests say it doesn't fit -- it's just not a viable theory." Argue said this was supported by the fact that in many features, such as the structure of the jaw, Homo floresiensis was more primitive than Homo erectus. "Logically, it would be hard to understand how you could have that regression -- why would the jaw of Homo erectus evolve back to the primitive condition we see in Homo floresiensis?" The analyses could also support the theory that Homo floresiensis could have branched off earlier in the timeline, more than 1.75 million years ago. "If this was the case Homo floresiensis would have evolved before the earliest Homo habilis, which would make it very archaic indeed," she said. Mike Lee of Flinders University and the South Australian Museum, used statistical modeling to analyze the data. "When we did the analysis there was really clear support for the relationship with Homo habilis. Homo floresiensis occupied a very primitive position on the human evolutionary tree," Lee said. "We can be 99 percent sure it's not related to Homo erectus and nearly 100 percent chance it isn't a malformed Homo sapiens."


News Article | April 21, 2017
Site: www.chromatographytechniques.com

The most comprehensive study on the bones of Homo floresiensis, a species of tiny human discovered on the Indonesian island of Flores in 2003, has found that they most likely evolved from an ancestor in Africa and not from Homo erectus as has been widely believed. The study by The Australian National University (ANU) found Homo floresiensis, dubbed "the hobbits" due to their small stature, were most likely a sister species of Homo habilis -- one of the earliest known species of human found in Africa 1.75 million years ago. Data from the study concluded there was no evidence for the popular theory that Homo floresiensis evolved from the much larger Homo erectus, the only other early hominid known to have lived in the region with fossils discovered on the Indonesian mainland of Java. Study leader Debbie Argue of the ANU School of Archaeology & Anthropology, said the results should help put to rest a debate that has been hotly contested ever since Homo floresiensis was discovered. "The analyses show that on the family tree, Homo floresiensis was likely a sister species of Homo habilis. It means these two shared a common ancestor," Argue said. "It's possible that Homo floresiensis evolved in Africa and migrated, or the common ancestor moved from Africa then evolved into Homo floresiensis somewhere." Homo floresiensis is known to have lived on Flores until as recently as 54,000 years ago. The study was the result of an Australian Research Council grant in 2010 that enabled the researchers to explore where the newly-found species fits in the human evolutionary tree. Where previous research had focused mostly on the skull and lower jaw, this study used 133 data points ranging across the skull, jaws, teeth, arms, legs and shoulders. Argue said none of the data supported the theory that Homo floresiensis evolved from Homo erectus. "We looked at whether Homo floresiensis could be descended from Homo erectus," she said. "We found that if you try and link them on the family tree, you get a very unsupported result. All the tests say it doesn't fit -- it's just not a viable theory." Argue said this was supported by the fact that in many features, such as the structure of the jaw, Homo floresiensis was more primitive than Homo erectus. "Logically, it would be hard to understand how you could have that regression -- why would the jaw of Homo erectus evolve back to the primitive condition we see in Homo floresiensis?" The analyses could also support the theory that Homo floresiensis could have branched off earlier in the timeline, more than 1.75 million years ago. "If this was the case Homo floresiensis would have evolved before the earliest Homo habilis, which would make it very archaic indeed," she said. Mike Lee of Flinders University and the South Australian Museum, used statistical modeling to analyze the data. "When we did the analysis there was really clear support for the relationship with Homo habilis. Homo floresiensis occupied a very primitive position on the human evolutionary tree," Lee said. "We can be 99 percent sure it's not related to Homo erectus and nearly 100 percent chance it isn't a malformed Homo sapiens."


News Article | March 9, 2017
Site: www.techtimes.com

In a new study, DNA in hair samples confirms Aboriginal people’s longstanding connection to Australia. DNA from Aboriginal people gathered during expeditions from 1928 to the 1970s revealed that modern Aboriginal Australians descended from a certain group populating the same regions for up to 50,000 years, around which time the continent was still linked to the New Guinea. The first people’s populations spread rapidly around the east and west coasts and met somewhere in southern Australia about 2,000 years later, the team from the Australian Centre for Ancient DNA (ACAD) of University of Adelaide concluded based on mitochondrial DNA from 111 hair samples. The populations appeared to stay in certain geographical areas while continental migration took place, being continuously present in such regions for the next 50,000 years. "This is unlike people anywhere else in the world and provides compelling support for the remarkable Aboriginal cultural connection to country,” said ACAD director and project lead Alan Cooper in a statement, hoping the findings will lead to a rewriting of the nation’s history to incorporate detailed Aboriginal history, spanning about 10 times the length of the European history currently being taught. Mitochondrial DNA allows the tracing of maternal ancestry. The hair samples in this study was obtained with permission from Aboriginal families forced to relocate to Queensland’s Cherbourg and South Australia’s Koonibba and Point Pearce communities. The university’s Board of Anthropological Research ran the expeditions from which the South Australian Museum’s collection of over 5,000 hair samples emerged. The study built on and lent data from a 2016 paper, which sequenced the genome of 83 Aboriginal people. It revealed that Aboriginal Australians living in desert environments may have developed certain biological adaptations to survive the harsh, arid conditions. According to its results, the occupation of the arid zone took place long before the last ice age, being contemporaneous with the Australian megafauna. The research puts into perspective the development of the Australian culture and civilization, by comparison to Europe's development. Study co-author Lesley Williams is the granddaughter of one of the donors of the hair samples. “A lot of non-Indigenous people said we weren’t here. This establishes the truth of what we’ve been saying all along,” she said in an ABC report. The DNA analysis was done only with consent from the donors and their descendants, with the results discussed face to face with families prior to publication and great sensitivity for the whole community employed, Williams added. Kaurna Elder Lewis O’Brien, among the original hair donors and sitting on the advisory group for the research, said the results affirmed existing knowledge. “But it is important to have science show that to the rest of the world,” he emphasized, hopeful that the project will assist those from the Stolen Generation and others raring to reunite with their families. The study was the first stage of a decades-long initiative to help people with Aboriginal heritage to trace their ancestry on the regional level and reconstruct their genealogical history, and to pursue the return of Aboriginal artifacts where they rightfully belong. It seeks to get results from up to 1,000 samples in the next two years, and to extend the study to investigate paternal ancestry from DNA. The findings were discussed in the journal Nature. A study from early last year showed that Aboriginal Australian men were in isolation for half a century since their initial settlement, challenging the previous hypothesis that suggested the arrival of early inhabitants from India up to 5,000 years ago. The modern humans who arrived in Australia almost 50,000 years ago were one of the earliest groups who settled outside of Africa, founding the ancestry of today's Aboriginal Australians. © 2017 Tech Times, All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.


King B.,Flinders University | Lee M.S.Y.,University of Adelaide | Lee M.S.Y.,South Australian Museum
Systematic Biology | Year: 2015

Virtually all models for reconstructing ancestral states for discrete characters make the crucial assumption that the trait of interest evolves at a uniform rate across the entire tree. However, this assumption is unlikely to hold in many situations, particularly as ancestral state reconstructions are being performed on increasingly large phylogenies. Here, we show how failure to account for such variable evolutionary rates can cause highly anomalous (and likely incorrect) results, while three methods that accommodate rate variability yield the opposite, more plausible, and more robust reconstructions. The random local clock method, implemented in BEAST, estimates the position and magnitude of rate changes on the tree; split BiSSE estimates separate rate parameters for pre-specified clades; and the hidden rates model partitions each character state into a number of rate categories. Simulations show the inadequacy of traditional models when characters evolve with both asymmetry (different rates of change between states within a character) and heterotachy (different rates of character evolution across different clades). The importance of accounting for rate heterogeneity in ancestral state reconstruction is highlighted empirically with a new analysis of the evolution of viviparity in squamate reptiles, which reveal a predominance of forward (oviparous-viviparous) transitions and very few reversals. © 2015 © The Author(s) 2015. Published by Oxford University Press, on behalf of the Society of Systematic Biologists. All rights reserved. For Permissions, please email: journals.permissions@oup.com.


Lee M.S.Y.,South Australian Museum | Lee M.S.Y.,University of Adelaide
Current Biology | Year: 2013

One of the major remaining gaps in the vertebrate fossil record concerns the origin of turtles. The enigmatic little reptile Eunotosaurus could represent an important transitional form, as it has a rudimentary shell that resembles the turtle carapace. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


Skinner A.,University of Adelaide | Skinner A.,South Australian Museum
Systematic Biology | Year: 2010

Rates of phenotypic evolution derive from numerous interrelated processes acting at varying spatial and temporal scales and frequently differ substantially among lineages. Although current models employed in reconstructing ancestral character states permit independent rates for distinct types of transition (forward and reverse transitions and transitions between different states), these rates are typically assumed to be identical for all branches in a phylogeny. In this paper, I present a general model of character evolution enabling rate heterogeneity among branches. This model is employed in assessing the extent to which the assumption of uniform transition rates affects reconstructions of ancestral limb morphology in the scincid lizard clade Lerista and, accordingly, the potential for rate variability to mislead inferences of evolutionary patterns. Permitting rate variation among branches significantly improves model fit for both the manus and the pes. A constrained model in which the rate of digit acquisition is assumed to be effectively zero is strongly supported in each case; when compared with a model assuming unconstrained transition rates, this model provides a substantially better fit for the manus and a nearly identical fit for the pes. Ancestral states reconstructed assuming the constrained model imply patterns of limb evolution differing significantly from those implied by reconstructions for uniform-rate models, particularly for the pes; whereas ancestral states for the uniform-rate models consistently entail the reacquisition of pedal digits, those for the model incorporating among-lineage rate heterogeneity imply repeated, unreversed digit loss. These results indicate that the assumption of identical transition rates for all branches in a phylogeny may be inappropriate in modeling the evolution of phenotypic traits and emphasize the need for careful evaluation of phylogenetic tests of Dollo's law. © The Author(s) 2010.


According to a new study, humans occupied Australia's arid lands and started to develop sophisticated tools approximately 10,000 years earlier than previously documented, placing them roughly 49,000 years in the past. The study, published in the journal Nature on Nov. 2, was conducted by researchers from the University of Adelaide and it analyzes the oldest evidence of Aboriginal occupation in South Australia. While people have reached the Australian territory roughly 50,000 years ago, it was unclear whether they actually remained there to occupy it or simply migrated toward another place. Led by Giles Hamm, research archaeologist and Honorary Fellow of the South Australian Museum, and his conjoined team, the study suggests that people settled down in the Australian region a few millennia since arriving on the continent. During that time, they developed key technologies, started important cultural practices and essentially built a cultural community long before previously believed. Among the instruments and possessions recovered from different layers of sediment at the Warratyi Rock Shelter in the desert region of northern South Australia were bone tools, stone tools as well as red ochre, found to be utilized as pigment. The discovery shifts the perception of how the civilization evolved massively because of the very early use of such materials. Gypsum was also found at the site. As part of the research procedure, the geochronology of the study was undertaken, which involved the identification of the time period when people habited the area. This was based on a series of factors from ground layers to the objects' characteristics. "One of the key strengths of this study is the chronology, which has typically proved to be a contentious issue at early archaeological sites in Australia. We have used a range of complementary dating techniques and targeted different types of materials to ensure that the age of the site is reliably known," explained geochronology specialist Lee Arnold, ARC Future Fellow with the University of Adelaide. In order to identify the dates of the objects they discovered as precisely as possible, the researchers used a single-grain optically stimulated luminescence procedure to establish the date when the sediments containing the fossils and artifacts were deposited. Along with complementary statistical techniques, the team managed to find out a precise occupation history of the archaeological site. According to the results of the research, the occupation of the arid zone took place long before the last ice age, being contemporaneous with the Australian megafauna. The study puts into perspective the development of the Australian culture and civilization, by comparison to Europe's development. © 2017 Tech Times, All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.


Levels of genetic diversity in finite populations are crucial in conservation and evolutionary biology. Genetic diversity is required for populations to evolve and its loss is related to inbreeding in random mating populations, and thus to reduced population fitness and increased extinction risk. Neutral theory is widely used to predict levels of genetic diversity. I review levels of genetic diversity in finite populations in relation to predictions of neutral theory. Positive associations between genetic diversity and population size, as predicted by neutral theory, are observed for microsatellites, allozymes, quantitative genetic variation and usually for mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA). However, there are frequently significant deviations from neutral theory owing to indirect selection at linked loci caused by balancing selection, selective sweeps and background selection. Substantially lower genetic diversity than predicted under neutrality was found for chromosomes with low recombination rates and high linkage disequilibrium (compared with normally recombining chromosomes within species and adjusted for different copy numbers and mutation rates), including W (median 100% lower) and Y (89% lower) chromosomes, dot fourth chromosomes in Drosophila (94% lower) and mtDNA (67% lower). Further, microsatellite genetic and allelic diversity were lost at 12 and 33% faster rates than expected in populations adapting to captivity, owing to widespread selective sweeps. Overall, neither neutral theory nor most versions of the genetic draft hypothesis are compatible with all empirical results. © 2012 Macmillan Publishers Limited All rights reserved.


Eight species of Neoechinorhynchus were reported from Australian waters. Neoechinorhynchus vittiformis n. Sp. is described from Eleutheronema tetradactylum (Shaw). It can be distinguished from all its congeners by the following combination of characters: long cylindrical trunk without cuticular plaques, globular proboscis, proboscis armature with the anterior circle of hooks larger with simple roots and the middle and posterior hooks the same size and smaller, short neck, lemnisci nearly equal, almost reaching the anterior testis which is more than half the length of the posterior testis. Neoechinorhynchus (Neoechinorhynchus) bryanti n. Sp., described from Liza subviridis (Valenciennes), also with an elongated trunk, can be distinguished from its congeners by the combination of a wider anterior trunk without cuticular plaques, a relatively long conical neck, a subglobular proboscis having anterior hooks with manubria, the hooks becoming gradually smaller posteriorly, the lemnisci not reaching level of testes and the anterior testis being longer than posterior testis. Neoechinorhynchus sp. resembled Neoechinorhynchus aldrichettae Edmonds, 1971 but had a rectangular-shaped proboscis with larger anterior hooks. New host and locality records were presented for N. aldrichettae, Neoechinorhynchus (Hebesoma) agilis (Rudolphi) and Neoechinorhynchus tylosuri Yamaguti, 1939. No additional specimens of either Neoechinorhynchus ningalooensis Pichelin and Cribb, 2001 or the species inquirenda, Neoechinorhynchus magnus Southwell and Macfie, 1925, were available for study. Of the 8 putative species listed here, 5 (N. [N.] bryanti, N. magnus, N. ningalooensis, N. vittiformis, and Neoechinorhynchus sp.) are endemic to Australian waters. By comparison with the North American fauna the Australian fauna was considered impoverished. The morphological and zoogeographical similarities within the group of 8 long, slender neoechinorhynchid species found in the African, Indo Malayan, and Western Pacific Regions, including the 3 found in Australia, may reflect a degree of evolutionary affinity. © 2013 American Society of Parasitologists.


Faith D.P.,South Australian Museum
Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences | Year: 2013

Evolutionary biology is a core discipline in biodiversity science. Evolutionary history or phylogeny provides one natural measure of biodiversity through the popular phylogenetic diversity (PD) measure. The evolutionary model underlying PD means that it can be interpreted as quantifying the relative feature diversity of sets of species. Quantifying feature diversity measures possible future uses and benefits or option values. Interpretation of PD as counting-up features is the basis for an emerging broad family of PD calculations, of use to both biodiversity researchers and decision makers. Many of these calculations extend conventional species-level indices to the features level. Useful PD calculations include PD complementarity and endemism, Hill and Valley numbers incorporating abundance, and PD dissimilarities. A flexible analysis framework is provided by expected PD calculations, applied to either probabilities of extinction or presence-absence. Practical extensions include phylogenetic risk analysis and measures of distinctiveness and endemism. These support the integration of phylogenetic diversity into biodiversity conservation and monitoring programs. © 2013 The Authors. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences published by Wiley Periodicals Inc. on behalf of The New York Academy of Sciences.

Loading South Australian Museum collaborators
Loading South Australian Museum collaborators