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Evolution In the Cold: Ancient DNA of Antarcti


Mon 21 Oct 2013, 6:30pm–7:30pm

Where: Brisbane City Hall, 64 Adelaide St, Brisbane CBD, Queensland

Restrictions: All Ages

Ticket Information:

  • Admission: Free


Listed by: BrisScience

Antarctic is not only the coldest place on earth, but also the driest place. This combination is ideal for the preservation of DNA. Adélie penguins that nest on the coastline of Antarctica in the summer months have been breeding there for many thousands of years. Underneath colonies of these birds are, literally, bones of their ancestors.

David Lambert’s research team have been recovering DNA from both living birds and from fossils dating to more than 40,000 years old. This research has stimulated studies of other ancient remains from temperate New Zealand through to arid parts of the world including Australia and Egypt.

In this month’s talk David Lambert, from Griffith University, will talk about his group’s research into the Adélie penguins of Antartica, and tell the story of the evolutionary tale.

Prof David Lambert is the inaugural Professor of Evolutionary Biology at Griffith University. David graduated from the University of Queensland with BSc and MSc degrees in Zoology and Genetics, and obtained a PhD from the University of the Witwatersrand.

David’s research has focused on aspects of evolutionary theory and evolutionary genetics. His research group pioneered the use of ancient DNA to estimate rates of molecular change in animal populations. Since 1986, he has worked in Antarctica on modern and ancient populations of Adélie penguins. His research team has measured changes in DNA over time using these populations, together with parallel studies of the unique tuatara of New Zealand. His research group has also conducted a series of studies on a number of extinct animal species including the large flightless moa.

David is currently the Dean of Research in the Science, Environment, Engineering and Technology group at Griffith University, and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand and the Queensland Academy of Arts and Sciences, and was recently awarded a Queensland Smithsonian Fellowship.