Current projects

Project: Understanding faunal responses to climate change and environmental perturbations through the Quaternary in northeastern Australia

Summary: At a time of widespread apprehension over human and climate change impacts on Australian fauna, it has become increasingly important to consider the history of past climatic and environmental fluctuations. This project will use a multidisciplinary approach to produce a reliable geochronological and palaeoecological framework for Quaternary fossil faunal records in northeastern Australia. It will yield objective data required for understanding how prehistoric events shaped the modern biota and for distinguishing climate and human forced impacts on the environment. The data may assist in the development of conservation strategies for our endemic faunas in an era of increased climatic and environmental variability and vulnerability.

Lead researcher: Dr Gilbert Price

Funding: ARC Discovery Early Career Researcher Award DE120101533


 Project: Developing reliable chronologies for extinct Australian Pleistocene megafauna from museum fossil collections

Summary: The adequate development, refinement and testing of late Pleistocene extinction hypotheses can only be achieved with far more extensive, complete and reliable dating than is presently available. This project will use recently developed direct dating methods, particularly high-throughput MC-ICP-MS U-series dating, to produce reliable chronological datasets for extinct megafauna, based on fossils held in museum collections. The existing datasets will be substantially improved by the expansion of regionally extensive, diverse and well-dated faunal records. The study will provide the key chronological data that can be fed into broader studies concerning the palaeobiology, palaeoecology, evolution and extinction of the Pleistocene megafauna.

Lead researchers: Dr Gilbert Price, Dr Yue-xing Feng (UQ) and Dr Renaud Joannes-Boyau (Southern Cross University).

Funding: ARC Discovery Project DP120101752.


 Project: Determining the significance of Neds Gully in the global Pleistocene megafaunal extinction debate

Summary: Failure to resolve the debate over the extinction of large-bodied Quaternary faunas (i.e., megafauna) rests in part, on a lack of the most basic data necessary to test the leading hypotheses, i.e., a comprehensive understanding of biology and ecology of the extinct forms, and accurate analytical dating of megafaunal occurrences. This project will use a multidisciplinary approach to produce a reliable geochronological and palaeoecological framework for the important, but controversial, ‘Ned’s Gully’ megafauna site of southeastern Queensland. This research is essential for developing an understanding of how prehistoric events shaped the modern biota of the region, and may help highlight what the danger signs are for the conservation of our endangered faunas and ecosystems.

Lead researchers: Dr Gilbert Price, with the assistance of Prof. Gregg Webb, Prof Jian-xin Zhao and Dr Yue-xing Feng, UQ; Andrew Murray, Aarhus University, Denmark; Dr John Hellstrom, University of Melbourne; and Mr Ian Sobbe, Clifton).

Funding: UQ New Staff grant


 Project: Establishing an AMS 14C-dated chronology for fossil faunas from Colosseum Cave, Mt Etna region, central eastern Queensland

Lead researchers: Dr Gilbert Price, Prof Jian-xin Zhao, Dr Yue-xing Feng, and Prof. Gregg Webb (UQ), and Dr Quan Hua (ANSTO)

Funding: AINSE Award


 Project: Environmental change in northern Cenozoic Australia: A multidisciplinary approach

Summary: The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warned that by 2020 to 2050, Australia will suffer significant biodiversity loss and water shortages. Our research will document and date the evolution of Australia’s biota through three cycles of climate change over the last 25 million years to quantify and thereby better anticipate the nature and dimension of threats facing our natural and cultural communities. We will develop innovative techniques to date prehistoric biotic and climatic events and, using a range of tracers, characterize ancient environments and groundwater. This project will assist rural and regional Australia through education and job creation in geotourism and natural resource interpretation and provide a mechanism to combat generational skill shortage.

Lead researchers: Dr. Sue Hand and Prof. Michael Archer (University of New South Wales), Dr. Scott Hocknull (Queensland Museum), Dr. Trevor Worthy (UNSW), Prof. Jon Woodhead (University of Melbourne), Dr. Dioni Cendon (ANSTO), Prof. Jian-xin Zhao (UQ), Dr. Ian Graham (UNSW), Dr. John Scanlon (Riversleigh Interpretative Centre), Dr. Gilbert Price (UQ), and Prof. Alan Chivas (University of Wollongong).

Funding: ARC Linkage project LP0989969


 Project: Dating late Pleistocene archaeological/palaeontological sequences in Mexico.

Lead researchers: Prof. Silvia Gonzalez (Liverpool John Moores University, UK), with Dr Gilbert Price.



Project: Extending chronologies of late Pleistocene megafaunal deposits from the World Heritage fossil deposits at Naracoorte.

Lead researchers: Dr Liz Reed, Dr Gavin Prideaux, Ms Amy Macken, with Dr Gilbert Price and Prof. Bert Roberts (University of Wollongong).


 Project: Refined reservoir correction for radiocarbon dating of the southern Great Barrier Reef based on U-series dated corals

Lead researchers: Prof. Gregg Webb and Prof. Jian-xin Zhao (UQ), Dr Luke Nothdurft (Queensland University of Technology), Dr Kefu Yu and Dr Gilbert Price (UQ), and Dr Brad Opdyke (Australian National University).

Funding: AINSE Award


 Project: Quaternary palaeoecology of coral communities from the Great Barrier Reef. Lead researchers: Dr Luke Nothdurft (Queensland University of Technology), Prof Gregg Webb and Dr Gilbert Price (UQ).


 Project: Long-term biodiversity response to late Quaternary climate change in a vulnerable dry rainforest habitat, eastern Queensland: a palaeontological assessment

Summary: This project involves excavating, dating and analysing the unique fossil assemblage preserved in Colosseum Chamber, eastern Queensland, Australia. This fossil site contains a continuous sequence with hundreds of thousands of fossils of small fauna (mammals, reptiles, frogs, birds, snails) spanning the last 60,000+ years. This project will provide crucial deep-time knowledge of the biodiversity of semi-evergreen vine thicket, dry rainforest and cavernous ecosystems, which are experiencing unprecedented environmental degredation. Knowledge of such prehistoric records provides unique insights into how climate has impacted upon and shaped our terrestrial ecosystems, and allows us to better predict faunal effects of future climate change.

Lead Researchers: Dr Julien Louys, Dr Gilbert Price, Dr Scott Hocknull (Queensland Museum)

Funding: The University of Queensland Postdoctoral Research Fellowship, The Ian Potter Foundation


 Project: Taxon-free palaeontological methods for reconstructing environmental change

Summary: This project, led by Liverpool John Moores University in association with Hull York Medical School and the University of Oxford, aims to develop novel methods for assessing the

Collecting data at Royal Museum for Central Africa, Tervuren, Belgium

ecomorphic adaptations of bovids, suids, carnivores and primates recovered from East African Plio-Pleistocene palaeontological sites. In addition, mesowear techniques will be refined and tested to ascertain whether they are applicable to teeth from a range of mammalian families. The data derived from these distinct methods and areas of the skeleton will then be used to address questions about environmental change in the African Plio-Pleistocene.

Lead Researchers: Laura C. Bishop (Liverpool John Moores University), Dr Sarah Elton (Hull York Medical School), Dr Peter Ditchfield (Oxford University), with Dr Julien Louys and Dr Carlo Meloro (Hull York Medical School)

Funding: Leverhulme Fund



Project: Peramelemorphian Evolution:  phylogeny, ecology and biogeography of fossil bilbies and bandicoots from Riversleigh World Heritage Area (North-western Queensland) and the Etadunna Formation (South Australia)

Summary: This project involves the description of new species of bandicoots and bilbies from rich fossil deposits such as Riversleigh World Heritate Area and the Etadunna Formation. Between the late Oligocene and the late Miocene, bandicoots were much more diverse that they are today, occupying niches that are currently occupied by dasyurids. This project will test current molecular phylogenies for bandicoots and bilbies, providing a deeper understanding of their evolution. It will also provide insights into how climate change at the end of the Miocene may have been involved in shaping the modern bandicoot diversity.

Lead Researcher: Kenny J. Travouillon

Funding: Robert Day Postdoctoral Fellowship, University of  Queensland.


 Project: Dental wear rates in marsupial herbivores

Summary: This project aims at identifying dental wear rates in modern marsupials to use as a proxy for diet in fossil taxa. Dental wear data collection was principally focusing on modern species of kangaroos and wallabies, which include a wide range of diets (omnivore, grazer, browser, etc…). Dental wear patterns are then used to identify diets of fossil marsupial taxa from the late Oligocene to Early Pleistocene from all over Australia. Changes in diet over geological time provide

Lead Researchers: Dr Christine Janis and Dr John Damuth (Brown University, USA), Dr Kenny Travouillon

Funding: Brown University, USA.