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“First humans, Last Megafauna? A brief look at the question of

megafaunal extinction and the human overkill model.

Dr Judith Field

Senior Research Fellow

Thursday 26 July 2012, 8 pm   

Glenaeon School Hall, 121 Edinburgh Road, Castlecrag

The extinction of a suite of giant animals, including the Diprotodon, the giant flightless bird Genyornis and a goanna the size of a Komodo dragon sometime during the last 100,000 years has been the subject of heated and sometimes acrimonious debate. That the extinctions appeared to coincide with the last ice age and the arrival of humans has led to entrenched and polarised views on the topic that continue to attract media attention. In this talk I hope to present some of the facts of the case and canvass the most explanations that may account for these events.

Judith Field is a Senior Research Fellow at the University of New South Wales, having moved from the University of Sydney where she had been a research fellow since 1996. She majored in Archaeology and Botany in her undergraduate studies and was awarded a PhD from the School of Geography at UNSW in 1996. Judith’s research focus is on Pleistocene archaeology, principally archaeological approaches to the timing and causes of megafaunal extinctions in Australia. She has directed excavations at the Pleistocene archaeological site of Cuddie Springs in western New South Wales since 1991, led survey and excavation at Riversleigh in north west Queensland and investigated the  antiquity of rainforest occupation in tropical Australia. She is currently working in the highlands of Papua New Guinea investigating plant use through time at the Kosipe Mission site, which has the earliest radiocarbon- dated sequences from PNG/Australia. Judith has been awarded over $1.5 million for these projects through the competitive Australian Research Council project grant schemes.

In addition to the field-based research programs she has a keen interest in areas of archaeological science that have stemmed from the field programs. These include functional studies of flaked and ground stone tools, which include identification and characterisation of organic residues on stone tools, studies of fossil pollen and microscopic charcoal.

Supper will follow Judith’s talk.