Evolutionary transformations in vertebrate history

The past decade has seen a surge of experimental techniques for reconstructing evolutionary transformations during the 500-million year history of vertebrate life, such as colonisation of land by tetrapods and secondary invasion of water by whales, feathered flight in dinosaurs, and live mammalian birth. These shifts involve fundamental changes in ecology, behaviour, physiology and development that underlie the origins of major clades and have lasting consequences in the modern forms.

This two-and-a-half-day symposium will bring together top Australian and international scientists, early career researchers and students to present the latest advancements in investigating the evolutionary dynamics of these profound events, with an emphasis on methods for integrating modern and palaeontological data. Topics may span multiple levels of biological organisation, from DNA sequences and individual development, to within-species variation and the origins of new clades.

Lunch on Day 3 will be followed by two optional workshops led by keynote speakers, showcasing their scientific techniques in an applied framework. Participation in these workshops will be limited to 10-15 people each, filled on a first come-first serve basis.

The symposium will end on Friday evening, 4 October, with a catered social event held at the Royal Society of Victoria’s Heritage building, where esteemed Australian palaeontologist John Long will give an informal talk on the significance of Australia’s fossil record in reconstructing the history of vertebrate life.

If you wish to present a 10-15 minute talk, please submit your abstract to Christy Hipsley at chipsley@museums.vic.gov.au by 30 June 2019.

Keynote Speakers

  • Professor Michael Coates, University of Chicago, USA All change? The Devonian-Carboniferous boundary and the origin of modern vertebrate clades
  • Assistant Professor Graham Slater, University of Chicago, USA Paleo-phylogenetic perspectives on morphological and ecological diversification in Cetacea
  • Dr. Daniel Thomas, Massey University, NZ Towards resolving an adaptive landscape for penguins
  • Dr. Emma Sherratt, University of Adelaide, AUS Reconstructing morphological evolution from complex phenotypes and Big Data
  • Professor Anjali Goswami, NHM/University College London, UK From development to deep time: the consequences of phenotypic integration for vertebrate evolution
  • Dr. Hélène Morlon, CNRS, FRA Phylogenetic approaches for understanding how biodiversity is distributed in space and time

Date & time

2–4 October 2019


Melbourne Museum, Victoria


 Christy Hipsley
 03 8341 7423

Updated:  23 October 2020/Responsible Officer:  Director/Page Contact:  Coordinator