Introducing Isityumzi

My paper describing a new fossil lungfish was published yesterday in the journal PeerJ. In 2018 I was fortunate enough to travel to South Africa to stay and work with Dr Rob Gess, based at Rhodes University in Grahamstown (Makhanda) in the eastern cape of South Africa.

  • Read my original blog post about the trip HERE.

Although not represented by many specimens, this lungfish material is significant for a number of reasons. Firstly, it represents the ONLY Late Devonian lungfish known from Western Gondwana (South America and Africa), and secondly it hails from the Waterloo Farm Formation. During the Late Devonian when this lungfish lived (~372-359 million years ago), South Africa was situated next to the south pole!

It seems to have inhabited a thriving ecosystem, suggesting that this region was not as cold as the polar regions are today, but it still must have been subject to long periods of winter darkness – very different to the habitats that lungfish live in today!

The new lungfish is called Isityumzi mlomomde, which means “a long-mouthed device for crushing” in the isiXhosa language (one of the official languages of South Africa).

  • Read the full article in PeerJ HERE

I was supported by a Vice-Chancellor’s Award for Early Career Research in 2017 which enabled me to travel to South Africa to complete this research.

Below is an artist’s interpretation of life at Waterloo Farm back in the Devonian (by Maggie Newman). Isityumzi (bottom right) here is eating some Naiadites (bivalves) on the underside of a submerged log whilst an Umzantsia (an early tetrapod) cruises overhead.

Isityumzi-WaterlooFarm

Science in the Pub

Tune in to “Mornings” on ABC Adelaide radio at 9:30 this morning to hear me speak to David Bevan about Science in the Pub (SciPub) this Friday December 6th.

  • Listen to the ABC Adelaide radio interview HERE: Listen from 34min on 3/12/19.

Science in the Pub “brings together critical thinkers of all backgrounds in the shared interest of understanding, criticising, debating, and learning about science”. They hold meetings at the Rob Roy Hotel in Adelaide with a different topic each month.

This month it is one of my all-time favourite themes, “Great Evolutionary Transformations“. I’ll be speaking about how the first land vertebrates (tetrapods) evolved from fish around 400 million years ago, including some exciting new research I am working on right now. Then Dr Myall Tarran will talk about how the flora of Australia adapted to a changing climate, and our final speaker, Paul Curnow, will present on the evolution of whales.

SciPubDecember

This event is free to attend but please register your interest HERE.  Catch you Friday!