[ASC-list] VIC: Free public lecture today ­ Live Birth in the Devonian by Dr John Long

Australasian Science science at control.com.au
Sun Nov 9 23:44:06 UTC 2008

Free public lecture today ­ Live Birth in the Devonian by Dr John Long

Museum Victoria¹s Head of Sciences, Dr John Long, will accept the 2008
Australasian Science Prize today at 5 pm before giving a free public lecture
about his prize-winning discovery of a 375 million-year-old fossil embryo
with an umbilical cord attached.

Long¹s discovery, which was the cover story in the July 2008 issue of
Australasian Science, is not only the first time ever that a fossil embryo
has been found with an umbilical cord, but it is also the oldest known
example of any creature giving birth to live young and provides insights
into the breeding behaviour of an entire class of extinct species.

The fossil was found in the Gogo area of north-west Western Australia and
has been named Materpiscis attenboroughi after the famed naturalist Sir
David Attenborough. Long says the discovery of the original ³mother fish²
was the ³rosetta stone that opened our minds to interpreting other fossils²
whose embryos were less clearly recognisable.

Long says the awarding of the Australasian Science Prize is a ³shot in the
arm for palaeontology² and ³shows palaeontology still has a major role to
play in bioscience, despite the rise of molecular biology. These fossils
give you an exact timing, which can tie the molecular clock to actual events
in evolution.²

The Australasian Science Prize was established in 2000 by the region¹s only
monthly science magazine to reward outstanding research. Applicants are
nominated and refereed by leading scientists for research published in
peer-reviewed journals. Criteria include originality, depth of impact and
evidence of effective communication.

The 2008 Australasian Science Prize will be presented to Dr Long at 5 pm on
Monday 10 November at The Age Theatre, Melbourne Museum, Nicholson St,
Carlton, and will be followed by a public lecture by Dr Long.

Guy Nolch, Editor, Australasian Science: 0417 324 394
Rod Macneil, Public Relations Manager, Museum Victoria: 0437 452 521

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