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.
ACAD researchers, Alan Cooper and Laura Weyrich hunt for fossils at Wyoming's Natural Trap Cave (NTC). The fossil haven is an 80 foot drop from the cave opening that has literally trapped several prehistoric animals. Previous excavations have unearthed over 30,000 specimens, such as the mammoth, short-faced bear and American lion. Check out the daily updates at Facebook #ntcave14 / #naturaltrapcave
New ACAD research dispels old theory: Madagascar's extinct Elephant Bird is the closest relative to the Kiwi, not the Emu! Read more here