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Australian Centre for Ancient DNA
School of Earth & Environmental Sciences
Darling Building
SA 5005

Telephone: +61 8 8313 3952
Facsimile: +61 8 8313 4364

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Australian Centre for Ancient DNA Evolution & environmental change

Australian Centre for Ancient DNA (ACAD)

The Ancient DNA Centre is a major research initiative of the School of Earth & Environmental Sciences and Faculty of Sciences, University of Adelaide, and aims to understand evolution and environmental change through time using preserved genetic records recovered from ancient materials including human and animal bones and teeth, plant remains and sediments. Key interests include the study of evolutionary processes and responses to climate change using genetic, fossil, and biochemical evidence and the application to population genetics, phylogenetics and phylogeography, molecular clocks, epidemiology and a variety of other uses of DNA sequences distributed through time across the world.
Current international projects include the extinctions of megafauna, impacts of climate change over the past 60,000 years, the tempo, mode and history of human evolution, speciation processes and the evolutionary relationships of extinct species such as Ice Age megafauna ranging from mammoth, bison, horses, cave lions and sabre-tooth cats to recently extinct species such as the New Zealand moa, thylacine and Falkland Island wolf.
A major research program is the study of human evolution, and current hominid projects include many populations of ancient modern humans, as well as Neandertals and the Flores hobbits. We are the sole research centre for ancient DNA research in the landmark 'Genographic Project' funded by the National Geographic Society, which is characterising mitochondrial and nuclear markers from over 500,000 individuals in a broad survey of human populations around the world. This project aims to reconstruct the complex and remarkable human journey, out of East Africa and around the world over the past 100,000 years.

Alan Cooper Laureate
Congratulations to ACAD director, Alan Cooper, who has been awarded an Australian Research Council Laureate Fellowship. This prestigious award will provide funding for several important projects for ACAD. Read more here.

Tindale Talk Poster

The Royal Society of South Australia Seminar
The next public seminar will be held on Thursday, September 11th. The speakers will present the fascinating life of Norman Tindale who, as an anthropologist and entomologist, recorded a large number of genealogies of Aboriginal people during the 1920s and 1930s. His vast ethnographic collection, housed at the South Australian Museum, culminated in the 1974 map of ‘Aboriginal tribes of Australia, their terrain, environmental controls, distribution, limits and proper names’. Click here for further information and registration details.

Macro Evolution Workshop

Workshop - Computational Macroevolution: analysis and visualisation of complex dynamics on phylogenetic trees.
Hosted by ACAD and sponsored by the Environment Institute, this 1 day free workshop is presented by Dan Rabosky from the University of Michigan. The workshop will provide theoretical background and a hands-on practicum in new methods for quantifying complex mixtures of macroevolutionary rate dynamics on phylogenetic trees. For further information, view the flyer here.


  • ACAD led research published in PNAS this month, which uses DNA from ancient Polynesian chickens, sheds light on early migrations of people across the Pacific. Read more here
  • Research published in Molecular Ecology on the lineage of hyenas makes the cover of the February, 2014 issue.
  • New ACAD research dispels old theory: Madagascar's extinct Elephant Bird is the closest relative to the Kiwi, not the Emu! Read more here