Abstract: Travel with us back in time and meet the strange forms that lived in our very own state some 500 million years ago, when animals were beginning to crawl and swim in our oceans. The Ediacaran fossils of the Flinders Ranges and the Cambrian fossils of Kangaroo Island are among the most important in the Southern Hemisphere, and they represent the earliest complex organisms in the planet. The rugged peaks of the Flinders and the green paddocks of KI provide a window to the oceans of half a billion years ago, in which the ancestors of today’s lobsters, clams and whiting lived. However, these ancient marine organisms look very different from their modem descendants... A few million years later, the animals found in the other end of Gondwana, what is now Spain, Portugal and Morocco, grew up to gigantic size. These weird and giant fossils have appeared in National Geographic, BBC and Discovery Channel, and have awed even the most experienced and well-informed people, such as Sir David Attenborough.
Bio: Diego was born and raised in Spain, where he got his BSc in Zoology (1997) and PhD in Palaeontology (2002) from the Complutense University in Madrid. Diego has now settled in Australia, but has also worked in Spain, Canada, US, UK and Germany. He studies the early evolution of animals after the Cambrian ‘explosion’: the rise of complex life on Earth, half a billion years ago. He excavated at the famous Burgess Shale Cambrian fossil locality in British Columbia between 1995 and 2000, and worked at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto for several years. In 2007 he joined the research team excavating the slightly older Emu Bay Shale in Kangaroo Island. In the last 7 years he has also been working on the Ediacara Biota from the Flinders Ranges, with the goal of finding the links of these strange organisms with the Cambrian faunas. Diego has written more than 90 research papers (including 3 in the journal Nature), book chapters and popular articles, presented over 80 international conference communications, and led research projects with over $3 Million in funding.