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Plants & Animals

Doco Review: What Plants Talk About

This PBS documentary about the hidden life of plants opens up fundamental questions about the way we view plants through the use of beautiful videography, testimony from scientists and some not so beautiful puns. Science teaches us that like all living things, plants compete with one another for survival. But if ... Continue Reading »

How hard can it be to name a turtle?

Recently, I described a new turtle species in New Guinea with the help of Arthur Georges, Yolarnie Amapou and Jim Anamiato. The turtle belonged to the side necked snapping turtles, a genus called Elseya. This was a difficult task as it required establishing 3 new subgenera as previous naming conventions ... Continue Reading »

In Class With David Suzuki

DETAILS AND BOOKINGS AT   Canadian environmentalist, scientist, author and broadcaster David Suzuki stops in during his appearances at the WOMADelaide festival to field questions from students around Australia. David Suzuki has been a regular fixture on television around the world for the past 45 years hosting series such as ... Continue Reading »

Habitat Fragmentation

Without habitats, organisms have nowhere to live. The removal, modification and degradation of habitat is the most significant cause of species decline and extinction. Habitat fragmentation is a major concern for the conservation of biodiversity - the number and form of living organisms and ecosystems. Habitats become ... Continue Reading »

Big brains, no protection against extinction

While we humans like to credit our success to our large brains, research just published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B suggests that having a bigger brain may actually be a lethal liability for a species. Graduate student Eric Abelson from Stanford University in California measured the brain size and ... Continue Reading »

Happy Darwin Day!

Today Charles Darwin turns 207 so take a moment to reflect on the greatest name in science and his legacy of brilliant ideas. Now I know that “greatest name in science” is always going to be a controversial claim and that there are other contenders in the likes of Sir Isaac ... Continue Reading »

Herpes helps to control carp

European Carp are the rabbits of the inland waterways of the Murray-Darling Basin. These feral pests breed prolifically, ruin the quality of the water with silt from their digging into stream beds and out compete most native fish species. And, to date, there’s been very little that can be done ... Continue Reading »

Dinosaurs shake their tail feathers

An international team of palaeontologists have revealed a surprising explanation for groups of 100 million year old scratch marks in sandstone at four different sites in Colorado: it looks like close cousins of T. rex were performing mating display or 'dances' that involved 'nest scraping' behaviour, much like we see ... Continue Reading »

Australia’s newest dinosaur: Kunbarrasaurus

Imagine being mistakenly identified for 25 years. That's precisely what has happened to the newly identified Kunbarrasaurus (koon-ba-rah-sore-rus) who was discovered in 1989, near Richmond in north-western Queensland. Previously identified as Minmi, another ankylosaur species found in Queensland, it wasn't until recently that scientists were able to study the fossils in-depth, literally, by using ... Continue Reading »

The Beginnings of Palaeontology

Palaeontology – a word that makes me think of dinosaurs and epic scenery. In reality though, palaeontology is based in facts and science that are much more exciting and interesting than anything my imagination can come up with. What is Palaeontology? Palaeontology is actually the study of life on Earth through time ... Continue Reading »

The Zombies of Nature

Zombie outbreaks are obviously a particular concern for everyone and should be part of everyone’s apocalypse preparations. Even the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has mapped a Zombie outbreak and how it would spread through the United States, with it now forming an ongoing campaign. But ... Continue Reading »

Charlotte’s Global Web – The Ethics of Worldwide Animal-Based Scientific Research

Scientific research sometimes requires the use of animals. It's a fact. It's also a fact that animals can't always be replaced by alternative methods. All too often, activist groups such as PETA are blatantly over-hyping the subject of animal research, selecting shocking, and sometimes brazenly inaccurate, images. To tug at our ... Continue Reading »

Mosquitoes, You and Climate Change

Mosquitoes are undoubtedly some of the most annoying guests at Australian barbecues. They attend only to feed on your blood, not your food. Mosquitoes require the proteins in blood to produce viable, healthy eggs and you may have experienced: mosquitoes prefer some humans over others. However, not all ... Continue Reading »

The Animals of Antarctica

The animals of Antarctica have always held a special fascination for me. For someone who can’t handle the cold and is more likely to hibernate like many northern species of animal, our southern friends fascinate me like no other. It would even be amazing to visit them someday… if I ... Continue Reading »

Shake Your Tail Feather

Animal sex is great. No wait… that came out wrong. Let me start again. There is nothing quite as weird as sex in the animal world. It’s an ever-giving fountain of fascinating material if you like the strange side of science. Here are some of my favourites. Do you have a favourite ... Continue Reading »

An Apple A Day

Apples are amazing. Here’s why: Where would we be without the humble apple? Apple pie, apple sauce, apple fritters, apple cider… Lots of us grew up with an apple in our lunchbox, but the story of our relationship with apples started long before primary school. The apple tree is thought to have ... Continue Reading »


One of my parent’s favourite stories is about when I was a child and they took me to the reptile park. We followed the nice reptile man around and watched him feed all of the snakes. And then we got to the Death Adder. I was two, twenty years on ... Continue Reading »


Like dinosaurs? Come to our event Dinosaurs on the Big Screen! You can watch Jurassic World and our exclusive premiere of RiAus documentary, Dinosaurs on the Big Screen. Dinosauria lived on earth for approximately 135 million years, until the end of the Cretaceous, 66 million years ago. Our understanding ... Continue Reading »

The Genetics of Jurassic World

Like hearing Paul Willis talk about dinosaurs? Come to our event Dinosaurs on the Big Screen! You can watch Jurassic World and our exclusive premiere of RiAus documentary, Dinosaurs on the Big Screen. And so the next instalment in the Jurassic Park saga is almost upon us. As with ... Continue Reading »

The Six Stages of Life

Love animals? Check out BBC's Life Story at Vivid in Sydney! Every animal, from the smallest insect to humans travels through life on a journey from birth to death. We all go through it, but there are six major stages that are familiar across all groups on land and ... Continue Reading »

Biological Diversity

May the 22nd is the International Day of Biological Diversity. Biological diversity (sometimes abbreviated to biodiversity) refers to all the amazing life forms on earth – the colourful parrots, the intelligent rats, the tallest trees and the toxicity of some fungi. Biological diversity measures range from genes to landscapes, but most ... Continue Reading »

Dinosaurs on the Big Screen

Think you know what a dinosaur looks like? Well, you might have to think again! Join RiAus for our first movie fundraiser to see the brand new blockbuster Jurassic World, along with a special exclusive premiere of RiAus TV’s documentary Dinosaurs on the Big Screen. Hosted by RiAus director and palaeontologist ... Continue Reading »

Algal Biofuel

If you’re outside enjoying a lunch under clear skies, each square metre surrounding you is receiving about 1,000 watts of energy from the Sun. As we well know, plants and algae convert this light energy into chemical energy via the process of photosynthesis. What may seem ... Continue Reading »

The Scientific Historians of Life

If you like this, then you should tune into ABC radio every second Thursday to hear Paul discuss science (and whatever else he's interested in). So, what has palaeontology ever done for us? Surely of all the useful, applicable sciences, palaeontology must rank at the bottom? It’s a great ... Continue Reading »

Lights Off! It’s Earth Hour

Have you got your diary handy? A calendar? Your phone? If you do could you write an important reminder for the 28th March: Earth Hour 8:30 pm. You also might want to make a sub note: buy some candles. Earth Hour is a movement that began in Sydney back in ... Continue Reading »

The Beauty in Nature

We live in a world where science and technology is everywhere; from the smart phone in your hand to the fuel efficient, automatic parking, city braking hybrid car that can practically drive itself. However, rarely does one stop to consider the beauty of the natural world and the science contained ... Continue Reading »

The Problems Facing Australian Shorebirds

If you like this, then you should come visit the Flyway Shorebird Exhibition in the Future Space Gallery! Australia is a very important place for shorebirds – over five million migrate from our shores each year to undertake the journey to their Arctic breeding grounds. During October to May ... Continue Reading »

The Superheroes of the Animal Kingdom

Time and time again it seems that even our most astonishing ideas and inventions are no match for Mother Nature. The natural world seems to evolve and perfect the weirdest ideas that humans could possibly imagine. Early explorers used compasses to navigate the seas; birds have been using the Earth’s ... Continue Reading »

The Year of the Gibbon

When we think of monkeys, we will generally picture a long armed primate, swinging through the trees. They’re gorgeous, and a little alien looking, but they’re monkeys. Actually, they’re gibbons. Gibbons are the group of primates that live in the tropical forests of Asia, and we ... Continue Reading »

Shorebird Migrations

If you like this, then you should come visit the Flyway Shorebird Exhibition in the Future Space Gallery! What are shorebirds? Shorebirds or wading birds are birds that are usually found on the edges of coastal areas or freshwater wetlands and in the intertidal zones of bays and estuaries ... Continue Reading »

One Hump or Two

Camel milk touted as latest superfood What does it take for a food to become a ‘superfood’? They certainly aren’t caped crusaders soaring through the skies and saving babies from burning buildings. The claims of what superfoods do, however, can be just as flamboyant. Take camel milk, ... Continue Reading »

The Greatest Fossils of 2014

As a palaeontologist, it warms the cockles of my heart to reflect on the significant fossils that came to light over the last year. And there are a lot of them, too many to consider here, but there are more complete lists elsewhere if you are sensibly obsessed ... Continue Reading »

Finding Life in Antarctica

Earlier this year scientists from the National Science Foundation (NSF), a United States government agency, have made an amazing discovery whilst testing a new camera-equipped robot to explore under the ice in Antarctica. Their test run unexpectedly revealed a new species of sea anemone which actually ... Continue Reading »

Why we need bees

The best thing about my job is honey. It always smells like honey, I get stung, sure, but the honey definitely makes up for it. Also, bees of all kinds are adorable. The honey bee is arguably the most famous of bees, likely because of the honey, but also because ... Continue Reading »

Ponzi’s Ecology

Recently an ecologist friend of mine commented that modern capitalist economies are little more than elaborate Ponzi schemes, complicated frauds that can only end in their own spectacular collapse in direct proportion to their stratospheric success. While I'm not sure I entirely agree with this proposition, I can ... Continue Reading »

The GM debate should only be about the science

The Waite Research Institute's Debate@The Waite series continues on Tuesday 21 October with the tenth event since 2011. The topic on this occasion will be 'The GM debate should only be about the science', exploring how we might have avoided the controversy, polarised arguments and misinformation around this important branch ... Continue Reading »

The Making of the Next Generation

We humans are obsessed with falling in love, and we often assume that every other living thing is too. But enough with the romantic stuff - what’s really important to us is the urge to reproduce. Birds do it, bees do it, even educated fleas do it. Our species’ survival depends on ... Continue Reading »

What is fire?

A threat and a tool, a spectacle and a muse: fire has a large role in human and non-human ecosystems. In Australia, fire has been used by people for hundreds of years as a land management tool, and in more recent times was used to clear land for grazing and ... Continue Reading »


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