PhD candidate
Isaac Kerr

I’ve been in love with the natural world since I can remember, so after high school I happily moved into a BSc in Evolutionary Biology at Adelaide Uni. In various topics and summer courses I rediscovered my fascination with palaeontology (dormant from age 8) and in 2016 completed my Honours in Evolution and Genetics, focusing on systematic palaeobotany. My Honours year showed me the breadth of possibility in the palaeontological world — how much travel, discovery and once-in-a-lifetime opportunity can be found even in one year of junior research. However, I knew that I wanted to look at animals, the bigger and stranger the better, and in early 2018 I started my PhD on giant fossil kangaroos at Flinders University, in the welcoming and colourful Flinders Palaeo Lab.

My research here focuses on megafaunal kangaroos of the genus Protemnodon, which lived across Australia and New Guinea from the Pliocene to the Pleistocene (5.3 million to 40,000 years ago). I’m examining what species of Protemnodon existed, how to tell them apart, how and why they evolved and how they interacted with their habitat and environment. I’m also describing and studying the only known ‘mother’ kangaroo fossil — a specimen of Protemnodon brehus — found preserved with a joey in its pouch. In the course of my two years of research here I have compiled a digital museum of over 700 3D scans of fossils (after visiting 13 museums in 4 countries) and collected some of the best-preserved and most complete material of the genus on a 3-week field trip to Lake Callabonna Fossil Reserve, northeast SA.