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Research - People


Dr Alex Cook

Senior Curator, Geosciences, Queensland Museum
Palaeontologist, Eromanga Dinosaur Project

  • BSc (Hons) Geology (University of Wollongong)
  • PhD Geology/Palaeontology (James Cook University of North Queensland)

An interest in fossil reefs led Alex to North Queensland, to study the Devonian (410–354 million year-old) fossil reefs of Townsville’s hinterland. Alex was appointed Senior Curator of Geosciences at the Queensland Museum, which introduced him to the fossil faunas and floras of Queensland’s Cretaceous Period.

Alex now works on the 380 million year old sequences of northern Australia as well as the 110-95 million year old rocks of Australia’s Artesian Basin. He has carried out extensive field work in Queensland, Western Australia and New South Wales and has worked on the Devonian fossil deposits of China.

Alex is currently researching fossil tracks and trails, fossil marine reptiles, fossil reef systems, the origins of gastropod groups and the palaeontology of Cretaceous faunas in Queensland. He has been involved with the Eromanga Dinosaur Project since 2004 and is the author of over 25 papers and books.

Tony Bean

Senior Botanist Queensland Herbarium

Tony has collected in South West Queensland and passed on valuable knowledge to ENHM staff on field collection and establishing a botanical collection. He has a particular interest in Solanum which is represented by many different species in the South West Queensland region. Tony has been working with ENHM volunteers to help identify the plants in the ENHM collection.


Dr Scott Hocknull

Principal Palaeontologist, Eromanga Natural History Museum

  • Senior Curator Geosciences, Queensland Museum
  • BSc (Hons 1A) University of Queensland
  • PhD University of New South Wales

Scott’s boyhood dreams of studying dinosaurs and palaeontology came true when he was appointed Assistant Curator of Palaeontology and Geology at the Queensland Museum at the age of 22, making him the youngest curator of any Australian museum.

Scott began his professional career in palaeontology in 1994 at the age of 16, when he published his first scientific paper, making him the youngest scientific author in Australia. He graduated from the University of Queensland in 2000 with First Class honours. Scott completed his PhD at the University of New South Wales, focusing on the evolution of Australia’s fauna, flora and climate over the last 4.5 million years in Queensland. He also researches, excavates and promotes Australian dinosaur fossils.
Scott’s research projects include: the evolution of Australian rainforest faunas and their responses to climate change; megafaunal extinction and responses of Quaternary vertebrates to climate change; mesozoic faunas from Queensland, in particular the fossil faunas from the Winton Formation; evolution of Australopapuan agamid lizards; and the fossil record of giant varanid lizards.


Dr Benjamin P. Kear

Assistant Professor, Uppsala University
Department of Earth Sciences, Paleobiology

Dr Ben Kear’s current projects include research into Cretaceous high-lattitude biotas, the evolution of Australian-New Guinean Mammals, the Cenozoic herpetofaunas in the Aegean region, and the evolution and paleobiology of Gondwanan Mesozoic marine vertebrates.

The discovery of a turtle fossil near Eromanga by Robyn and Stuart Mackenzie in 2009 led to Dr Kear attending the June 2010 dig. He was part of the team that excavated Gibba, a cretaceous chelid turtle, and he is currently working on the official classification of this specimen.

Professor David Lambert

  • Griffith School of Environment and School of Biomolecular and Physical Sciences, Griffith University

Ancient DNA research, molecular evolution, conservation genetics, evolutionary biology and evolutionary theory. Professor Lambert is working on Eulo megafauna fossils from the ENHM collection.


Dr Timothy Pietsch

Research Fellow, Australian Rivers Institute

  • BAppSci (Hons), PhD

Dr Timothy Pietsch has expertise in Fluvial Geomorphology and Optical Stimulated Luminescence (OSL). He was involved at the 2012 Eulo megafauna dig using the OSL technique to date the numerous megafauna fossilised skeletons discovered on the site.


Professor Paul Sereno

  • Palaeontologist, University of Chicago, USA
  • President and Co-founder, Project Exploration
  • 1979 B. S. Northern Illinois University (Biological Sciences)
  • 1981 M. A. Columbia University (Geological Sciences)
  • 1981 M. Phil. Columbia University (Geological Sciences)
  • 1987 Ph. D. Columbia University (Geological Sciences)

Paul’s interest in Gondwana fossils, especially from the Cretaceous age, began in the 1990s. He began studying material from South America and led expeditions to Africa, which resulted in the discovery of many new exciting fossils. Australia was seen as a country with great unexplored areas. The geology of the Eromanga area was the right age, around 97 million years and promised a good chance of discovery when Paul visited in 1998.

No fossils were discovered on that excursion but Paul piqued the interest of the locals who were only too interested to hear my ideas of what could be hidden in the rocks under their feet.

Dr Steve Webb

Professor of Australian Studies
Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, Bond University Gold Coast

  • B.A. (Hons) and Ph.D in Biological Anthropology and Pre-history

Dr Steve Webb has played a significant role in the repatriation of Aboriginal skeletal remains and works extensively with Aboriginal communities and museums around Australia. He has undertaken field work in central Australian researching the paleoenvironments of the Simpson Desert and Lake Eyre basin. Dr Webb has a great passion for arid Australia and shares the OGF vision to establish an arid Australia Centre for Paleontology and research to benefit both science and community, helping to narrow the divide between the bush and city.


Mel Wilkinson

  • B. Science (Honours) (Geology) B. Arts (Anthropology)
  • Founding Director of OGF
  • Senior Geologist Santos Petroleum 1993 – current
  • Senior Geologist AGL Petroleum 1989-93
  • Senior Geologist CSR Petroleum 1983-89

Has been actively involved in the with the work of the Foundation and earlier the Natural History Society since it began in 2004. Mel has done a lot of research on field work and compiled comprehensive reports about the geology of the Eromanga Winton Formation and the Bundoona Creek complex.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Holotype?

A holotype is a valuable original specimen that describes a new species.  It is a term used to describe a specimen that is the first known of its kind anywhere in the world.  A holotype can be any type of fossil, and it serves as the name-bearer of the species.  Even if a better specimen is found, the holotype is not superseded.  These are rare and exciting discoveries, which help fill important gaps in the fossil record. 

Every animal and plant that is scientifically described is represented by a holotype.  If a scientist wishes to study the unique traits of a species, it is usually the holotype specimen they study.  The holotypes are the crown jewels of any museum collection.  These priceless specimens need to be stored and conserved at standards that meet the Code of International Zoological Nomenclature.

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