Our scientists are world leaders in fields such as evolutionary biology, mineralogy, palaeontology and terrestrial invertebrates. Unlocked brings you the hidden gems from the South Australian Museum.

Antarctic life under the microscope
25 September 2015Despite temperatures dropping well below -60 °C in Antarctica, micro-animals like nematodes (commonly known as roundworms), rotifers (wheel animals) and tardigrades (water bears), can survive the most extreme environmental conditions.These hardy and adaptable invertebrates - found in soil, ponds and lakes - are often among the first colonisers and last survivors in harsh environments.“These animals have been living in Antarctica, likely since before it was glaciated when it had a forest,” said Associate Professor Mark Stevens, South Australian Museum.“They are essentially relics of a continent that has had a huge amount of environmental change over a very long period of time.”To read more: http://www.samuseum.sa.gov.au/media/unlocked/antarctic-life-under-the-microscope
Uncharted territory – South Australian Museum reveals secrets of the deep ocean
08 July 2015The South Australian Museum is helping to explore the deep sea floor off southern Australian. The goal is to collect and describe the creatures that live there – some up to 2000 meters below sea level. Today, World Oceans Day is a chance to reflect on these mysteries of the ocean.“We’ve mapped the moon and even Mars, but we know very little about our oceans and the animals that live there, especially down deep,” said Dr Andrea Crowther, Collections Manager – Marine Invertebrates, South Australian Museum.“Healthy Oceans, Healthy Planet is the theme of World Oceans Day this year and it’s a chance to put the spotlight on these unexplored ecosystems,” Dr Crowther said.“We need to know what healthy ocean systems look like so that we can protect them and monitor changes over time.”To read more:http://www.samuseum.sa.gov.au/media/unlocked/uncharted-territory--south-australian-museum-reveals-secrets-of-the-deep-ocean
Museum Researcher Reveals How Dinosaurs Evolved Into Birds
01 August 2014Our everyday feathered friends are fast-evolving relatives of dinosaurs, according to a new study published today by Adelaide scientist Dr Mike Lee and colleagues, in the prestigious journal Science.Senior Research Scientist Dr Mike Lee (jointly appointed at the South Australian Museum and the University of Adelaide) already has a fascinating portfolio of studies into ancient life. In his latest paper published in Science, his team used sophisticated mathematical modelling to trace how adaptations and body size evolved across the dinosaur family tree.To read more:http://www.samuseum.sa.gov.au/media/unlocked/museum-researcher-reveals-how-dinosaurs-evolved-into-birds
Ice Age in the Tropics: Bees Paint a Clearer Picture
07 May 2014Scientists have uncovered some of the key impacts of the last Ice Age on tropical island ecosystems in the South West Pacific.Tropical bee species have proved to be effective markers of the effects of climate change, as shown by researchers at Flinders University and the South Australian Museum’s Senior Research Scientist Dr Mark Stevens.In a study published today in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, Dr Stevens, Dr Mike Schwarz and PhD student Scott Groom from Flinders University, have shown that bee populations on the separate Pacific archipelagos (Fiji, Samoa and Vanuatu) experienced similar evolutionary responses to the changing climate since the last Ice Age.To read more:http://www.samuseum.sa.gov.au/media/unlocked/ice-age-in-the-tropics-bees-paint-a-clearer-picture
Gondwana Survivors: Scientists Track Evolution Across Broken Continents
02 December 2013A group of scientists from Australia and France are undertaking ‘extreme science’ in the canopies of tropical Australian forests – as part of a mission to map the evolution of insects that were once part of the supercontinent Gondwana.Researchers from the South Australian Museum, France’s National Museum of Natural History and collaborators from other institutions are studying several groups of insects following the fragmentation of the immense continent which once consisted of the continents South America, Africa, Asia, Australia, New Zealand and Antarctica – as part of a project run by Cafotrop.To read more:http://www.samuseum.sa.gov.au/media/unlocked/gondwana-survivors-scientists-track-evolution-across-broken-continents
Layers of Treasure to be Uncovered on Kangaroo Island
29 October 2013Researchers from the South Australian Museum have returned from their biannual field trip to fossil hotbeds on Kangaroo Island, with a swathe of new species to describe.Since fossilised animals from the early Cambrian period (half a billion years ago) were discovered at a new quarry in 2007, Museum scientists have been visiting, collecting and analysing specimens from a very special site.To read more: http://www.samuseum.sa.gov.au/media/unlocked/layers-of-treasure-to-be-uncovered-on-kangaroo-island
Bees Throw Spotlight on Extinctions During Dinosaur Era
25 October 2013A paper by South Australian Museum scientist Dr Remko Leijs and colleagues that looks the way Carpenter bee extinctions mirrored dinosaur deaths millions of years ago, has this week been published in PLOS ONE.Dr Leijs, the University of New Hampshire’s Dr Sandra Rehan and Flinders University’s Dr Michael Schwarz have shown that Carpenter bees underwent a mass extinction event similar to that experienced by dinosaurs millions of years ago.Their remarkable research traced the evolution of Carpenter bees (subfamily Xylocopinae) using molecular analysis of living bees, as fossils were not available.To read more:http://www.samuseum.sa.gov.au/media/unlocked/bees-throw-spotlight-on-extinctions-during-dinosaur-era
Experts: Meet our Bat Man
20 June 2013There are many instances in which the services of the South Australian Museum’s resident “bat man” are called upon.Technical officer Terry Reardon has been studying the nocturnal creatures for many years, in habitats from local parklands to the jungles of Papua New Guinea.When heading out of the Science Centre in the “batmobile”, Mr Reardon takes with him sophisticated technology like ultrasonic bat detectors, thermal cameras and marine radar to research bats.To read more:http://www.samuseum.sa.gov.au/media/unlocked/experts-meet-our-bat-man
The Last of the Gel Jockeys: A 'Dyeing' Art
11 July 2013The South Australian Museum is internationally renowned for using the latest genetic science techniques, but is also home to what could be the last of the ‘gel jockeys’ — scientists using old-fashioned protein electrophoresis to create genetic profiles.It’s this hybrid of old and new science that allows our researchers to enjoy the advantages of each method, and propels them to success on the world's scientific stage.Discovering a new species from two animals that look exactly the same might seem a very complicated task, but it’s all in a day’s work for one South Australian Museum researcher.Mark Adams, the Evolutionary Biology Unit’s longest-serving research scientist, uses the process called protein electrophoresis to compare the genetic profiles of a wide range of Australian animals.To read more:http://www.samuseum.sa.gov.au/media/unlocked/unlocked-archives/2013/07
Catch of the day in Borneo uncovers new species
14 June 2013In their hunt for the right specimens to study, our scientists venture far from our Adelaide laboratories and collaborate with people from all walks of life.An ongoing project investigating the biodiversity of parasites on sharks and stingrays has seen two talented researchers travel as far as Borneo to work with local fishermen in finding the freshest and most accurate samples. Our researchers — Parasitology Collection Manager Dr Leslie Chisholm and Head of Biological Sciences Associate Professor Ian Whittington — were invited to be a part of the study because of their specialist knowledge in monogenean parasites. New species of both the host animals and the parasites have been discovered during the project and the data have been useful for services such as helping public aquaria control worm infections, improving the health of animals on display.To read more: http://www.samuseum.sa.gov.au/media/unlocked/catch-of-the-day-in-borneo-uncovers-new-species
Historical treasures in a modern pest: the Black Rat story
24 October 2012They scuttle under houses and along fences. Their beady eyes peer out from behind leafy fronds and they often draw screams from the faint-hearted.Black Rats are a common sight around Australian homes, but many residents may not know these pests hold the scientific key to unlocking the causes of historic and future disease around the world. A South Australian Museum team has embarked on a project to map the genetic story of the Black Rat. The data will provide a clearer picture of the rat's role in spreading disease and this information will help policymakers prepare for possible outbreaks in the future.To read more:http://www.samuseum.sa.gov.au/media/unlocked/historical-treasures-in-a-modern-pest-the-black-rat-story
Scientists Uncover Hotbed of Marine Life in New Caledonia's Reefs
04 September 2012South Australian Museum parasite expert Ian Whittington is one of several international scientists whose study in New Caledonia is today published in the journal Aquatic Biosystems.New Caledonia is home to the biggest coral reef lagoon and the second biggest coral reef on the planet. Coral reefs, essential to the world's ecosystems, are home to more than 25% of global marine biodiversity but comprise less than 0.1% of the Earth's ocean surface. They are considered biological "hotspots" because they are especially rich in marine species. Parasites play a major role in species evolution and the maintenance of populations and ecosystems. However the role of parasites is little known or appreciated.To read more:http://www.samuseum.sa.gov.au/media/unlocked/scientists-uncover-hotbed-of-marine-life-in-new-caledonias-reefs
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The South Australian Museum is a major centre of exciting scientific discovery. Our institution plays an important global role as our scientists work to understand and conserve Australia's natural and cultural heritage for current and future generations.
Researchers embark on amazing adventures across the world to discover and describe new species of fauna and their relationship with the environment, provide valuable advice to policymakers, lawyers and corporations, and act as custodians of the Museum's extensive national collections.

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The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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