PhD candidate
Phoebe McInerney


My name is Phoebe and I am currently a PhD candidate in the palaeontology lab here at Flinders University. I joined the Flinders Palaeontology lab in 2018 when I was offered an Honours project exploring the morphology of a group of birds called the Palaeognaths. This opportunity really surprised me, but through my time as an undergraduate student I had developed a keen interest in morphology and evolution, so I went for it.

I started uni studying health sciences, where a brilliant teacher helped me see how interesting morphology is. However, I was drawn towards the study of other animals rather than humans, and so transferred to the biological sciences at Flinders. During this time, I spent almost 3 months completing field work in South Africa and it was there that I realised avian evolution and diversification would become a passion of mine.

Now, here I am, scaling the PhD mountain, studying just that. I am researching a group of large, extinct birds from Australia, the Dromornithids, of which I am describing a recently discovered skull from a species which survived through to the Pleistocene. Once complete, I will use the inner ear to assess evolutionary changes surrounding locomotion, and finally, delve deep into the complexity of phylogenetics to look at the evolution of this group, as well as Aves as a whole.

In doing a PhD in the Flinders Palaeontology Labs, I have had so many further opportunities available to me. I have presented at national and international conferences, travelled to New Zealand, helped lead an amazing palaeontology society, and been allowed to follow little rabbit holes which really excite and challenge me. This includes a small paper on the identification of bone infections in fossil birds. I am really enjoying being immersed in this world of scientific research.