Ellen_labphoto

PhD candidate
Ellen Mather

My interest in palaeontology has been around for as long as I can remember. When I was a young girl I was fascinated by dinosaurs and wanted to study them when I grew up. As I grew older, I realised that there were more extinct animals than just dinosaurs and many of them have not gotten nearly as much attention. I ended up doing a Bachelor of Science in evolutionary biology, majoring in palaeontology, at Adelaide University before coming to Flinders University to do my postgrad work.

Currently, I am looking at the undescribed extinct eagles of Australia and New Zealand for my PhD project, with the aim of determining where they fall in the phylogeny of eagles and hawks, as well as officially describing and naming them. The species I’m looking at include the oldest known eagle from Australia, which is around 24 million years old and lived at a time when the continent was largely covered in forest, and a species larger than the wedge-tailed eagle that only went extinct in the last 100,000 years. Australia has very few fossil species of eagles and hawks described and studied in detail, so the fossils I’m looking at could reveal a lot of information about the evolution of this amazing family of birds in our country.