Amphisbaenian skull paper now online

Just in time for the holidays, you can now read about your favourite subterranean worm lizards here!

Blanus alexandri from Turkey, formerly a subspecies of Blanus strauchi. Figure from Villa et al. 2018, Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, zly082.
X-ray computed tomography reconstructions of Blanus skulls. Figure from Villa et al. 2018, Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, zly082.



Dean’s Award

Last night Andrew Pask and I received a Dean’s Award for Excellence in Research (Team), for our integrative work on Tasmanian tiger.

Thylacine – it’s the gift that keeps on giving!

Science Friction podcast

Last Thursday I was part of a discussion panel for the ABC radio show Science Friction called ‘Back from the Dead’. Euan Ritchie, Ben Novak and I explored different facets of the controversial de-extinction process, including – Will it happen? What is the technology? And if we can, should we bring back extinct species?

You can listen to it here.

BSc Blended Research Camp

Me doing my best marsupial impression

Last Friday Andrew Pask and I hosted 20 students and 2 teachers from the Bachelor of Science (Blended) Research Camp, as part of a shared program between Pune University in India and University of Melbourne. We presented our work on Tasmanian tiger, and they got to see first-hand where many of our specimens are stored. A special thanks to Simon Hinkley and Katie Date for their tours of the entomology and vertebrate collections, giving these students a unique behind-the-scenes look at Melbourne Museum.


IUCN Skink Specialist

This week I joined the Species Survival Commission (SSC) Skink Specialist Group for the IUCN, with the hope that I can use my X-ray computed tomography skills to help identify and describe Australian skink diversity.

The IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) is a global network composed of many such specialist groups, made of volunteer experts dedicated to conservation, species reintroduction, climate change, wildlife health and sustainable use and trade.

In addition to being a researcher, I choose to be an advocate for the animals I study.

TMAG visit – an oldie

This past June when I was in Hobart for Dark Mofo, the wonderful Kathryn Medlock, Senior Curator of Vertebrate Zoology at the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery [TMAG], gave me a behind-the-scenes tour of their offsite collections. There I had the honour to hold one of the original thylacine pouch young specimens that we scanned for our paper on Tasmanian tiger development, A930, shown below. This little male joey, about 9 1/2 weeks old, was brought to TMAG with its sister and mother as a bounty animal from Campbell Town in 1902. The location of its sibling is still unknown, showing just how rare and valuable these specimens are. 

Shanghai Natural History Museum visit

I’m working this month in China, and had the pleasure to visit the Shanghai Natural History Museum – one of the best I have ever seen (sorry Berlin!). I’m trying to find relevant contacts there for any type of vertebrate biology or paleontology. If anyone knows someone, please send me a message!

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