Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

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How Australia Dried Out

Image of ancient lake

Sediments of the ancient Lake Bungunnia near Rufus River in western NSW. The white horizon is the dust layer marking the start of arid climatic regimes. Photo: Richard Stanaway

By Sandra McLaren & Malcolm Wallace

Lake Bungunnia, a megalake that existed 1–2 million years ago in today’s Murray–Darling Basin, reveals the story and timing of the onset of arid climatic conditions in south-eastern Australia.

Dr Sandra McLaren and Dr Malcolm Wallace are from the School of Earth Sciences at the University of Melbourne. This article is based on their research published recently in the journal Global and Planetary Change.

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The First Breath

Image of lungfish ribs

The cranial ribs in the Australian lungfish Neoceratodus forsteri are needed to anchor the pectoral girdle, allowing the fish to raise its head to gulp air. Image adapted from Johanson et al. 2005.

By Alice Clement

A new fossil find shows that a global decline in oxygen millions of years ago drove the evolution of air-breathing in lungfishes.

Alice Clement is a PhD student at the Research School of Earth Sciences of the Australian National University and Museum Victoria, where she is studying lungfish evolution and anatomy.

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Entropy Theories in State of Disorder

Image of Stephen Hawking

Stephen Hawking in freefall flight on board a modified Boeing 727 jet that completes a series of steep ascents and dives to create short periods of weightlessness due to freefall. During this flight Hawking experienced eight such periods. Now one of his theories about entropy is in freefall too. Photo: NASA

By Stephen Luntz

Australian researchers have found that there is more disorder in the universe than previously realised – and that one of Stephen Hawking’s assumptions is probably wrong.

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Meeting the Missing Link

Image of fossil skull

The cranium of the juvenile skeleton. Photo: Brett Eloff courtesy Wits University

By Paul Dirks

Paul Dirks gives a first-hand account of the expedition that found a new species of hominid linking humans and apes.

Professor Paul Dirks is Head of the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences at James Cook University, and former Head of the School of GeoSciences at Wits University in South Africa.

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