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Palaeontology is the study of the history of life on Earth through fossils, a fascinating branch of science that enhances our understanding of extinction, biodiversity, evolution and preservation, and how to respond to climate change.

Professor Kate Trinajstic is a vertebrate palaeontologist and Curtin Research Fellow, who specialises in armoured prehistoric fish. Her work focuses on how early vertebrates evolved an internal skeleton and complex musculature, how lungs developed, and how teeth and jaws evolved.

She is accomplished in a variety of micro-analytical techniques, including synchrotron and neutron scanning of fossil materials, which have opened up exciting new avenues for non-destructive investigations of the structure of fossils.

Her primary field work is in the Kimberley region of Western Australia at the world-famous Gogo fossil site, which was once an ancient barrier reef teeming with fish.

In this episode, Professor Trinajstic discusses how palaeontology can inform our response to climate change, how she uncovers and analyses fossils, her fieldwork at the Gogo fossil site and the discovery she made that reset the evolutionary calendar.

  • How life on Earth previously responded to climate change 2.22
  • What is mass extinction? 6.14
  • Uncovering fossils with a sledgehammer 7.56
  • What you can see using synchrotron and neutron scanning 9.50
  • Professor Trinajstic’s significant discovery 19.13
  • Working in the Gogo fossil site – a hotspot for palaeontology. 25.00


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Music: OKAY by 13ounce Creative Commons — Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported — CC BY-SA 3.0 Music promoted by Audio Library

You can read the full transcript for the episode here.