The Biological Sciences in Field Palaeontology: Uniting methods in the hunt for early human ancestors in South Africa

Mon 27 Mar 2017 1:00pm2:00pm


QBI Auditorium, Level 7

Dr. Justin W. Adams has been a field palaeontologist and anatomy educator for the past 15 years. He completed his first degree in Anthropology (with Distinction) in 1999 from the University of Washington (Seattle, Washington, USA) and went on to complete his PhD at Washington University in St. Louis (USA) in 2006. Since 2001, his research has focused on the Plio-Pleistocene African fossil record and outstanding questions of human evolution in South Africa. As chief investigator and faunal analyst, he has led excavations at four different South African fossil localities and is currently one of few palaeontologists permitted to excavate in the Cradle of Humankind UNESCO World Heritage Site. His published and ongoing interdisciplinary research on South African fossil mammals and palaeoecosystems is generating the first comprehensive picture of the landscape in novel regions of South Africa during a period of significant climate change, faunal turnover, and events in human evolution. His exploration of new fossil sites and integration of new methods in his research on mammalian evolution in South Africa has been funded by the National Science Foundation, the Wenner-Gren Foundation, the Leakey Foundation, and the Ford Foundation. Currently he directs excavations at the primate-rich Haasgat fossil site ( and collaborates with the LaTrobe University/University of Johannesburg Fieldschool at the Drimolen hominin site (

In 2013, Dr. Adams joined the Department of Anatomy and Developmental Biology at Monash University, and is currently a Senior Lecturer and the Deputy Director of the Centre for Human Anatomy Education. He contributes to anatomy instruction across several courses, including coordination of the BMS 2011 unit that approaches human anatomy through evolutionary, comparative, and functional perspectives. He is also a primary researcher in the Centre's 3D printing initiative that is applying this emerging technology into revolutionary teaching materials used in anatomy education.

Centre for Human Anatomy Education Webpage

Justin Adams Research Profile


Dr Olga Panagiotopoulou