Life, sex, songs, scrat and the sponge: Australia's Guinness book of evolutionary records

21 September 2012

Presented by Prof. Mike Archer, Biological, Environmental, & Earth Sciences, UNSW. Host: MEEP lab.

Reflecting the inappropriate cultural cringe Australians have endured since Europeans arrived, the natural productions of Australia for too long have also been regarded as somehow less remarkable than those that evolved in other lands. In reality, many if not most of the major events in the history of life on Earth took place in Australia. Steadily accumulating discoveries in the fossil record and in the living world make it increasingly clear that a surprising number of the world's first, biggest and most extraordinary creatures evolved here. Far from being the evolutionary backwater some northerners have presumed, this place records the first traces of life, the first sex, the first animal, the first tetrapod, the biggest dinosaur, the biggest bird, the first songbird, the most ferocious mammalian carnivore and many other awesome creatures that demonstrate that Australia has punched well above its weight in churning out record-breakingbeasts that should humble the rest of Creation.