School of Earth and Environmental Sciences

Leaders in our field, nationally and internationally, our graduates have real world skills to tackle current and future global challenges. Access to rare specialist equipment and techniques, and opportunities to acquire practical and application-based learning through fieldwork.

22 June: 
New $46M national research centre to explore Australia’s human and environmental history

CABAH Team - thumbUniversity of Wollongong to host ARC Centre of Excellence for Australian Biodiversity and Heritage.

Australia’s distinctive character is captured in its unique natural and human history. Yet much of this story remains unknown. How did Indigenous Australians and our endemic fauna and flora respond and adapt to periods of climatic stress, and what lessons can be learnt that will help our environment and society in the future? Today (Thursday June 22) an international research team headquartered at the University of Wollongong (UOW) begins a seven-year, $45.7 million quest to shed light on Australia’s iconic biodiversity and Indigenous heritage. The Minister for Education and Training, Senator the Hon. Simon Birmingham, will officially launch the Australian Research Council (ARC) Centre of Excellence for Australian Biodiversity and Heritage (CABAH) at Parliament House this morning. 

10 May:
Primitive cousin Homo naledi much younger than thought

Tony Dosseto - thumbEfforts to date Homo naledi fossils have produced an unexpected result; the early human species lived much more recently than scientists had thought.

Homo naledi fossils were discovered in the Rising Star cave system in South Africa in 2013. While the fossils shared some anatomical features with modern humans (such as the shape of their wrist bones), other features (such as the small size of the skull) had more in common with some of the earliest members of the Homo genus, Homo habilis and Homo rudolfensis, who lived close to two million years ago.

While the mix of primitive and modern features made it hard to place in the evolutionary timeline, the most common theory was that Homo naledi probably lived perhaps one to two million years ago.

However, a large international team of researchers has now dated those fossils, and the results show that Homo naledi was most likely alive sometime between 236,000 and 335,000 years ago. The finding means Homo naledi was alive at the same time as Homo sapiens – modern humans – first appeared. 

27 April: 
San Diego mastodon discovery rewrites the story of humans in North America

Richard Fullagar - thumbEvidence from an archaeological site in San Diego, California, has dramatically shaken up our understanding of when early humans arrived in North America.

Until recently, the oldest records of human sites in North America generally accepted by archaeologists were about 15,000 years old. But the fossils from the Cerutti Mastodon site (as the site is being referred to in recognition of San Diego Natural History Museum field palaeontologist Richard Cerutti who discovered the site and led the excavation), were found embedded in fine-grained sediments that had been deposited much earlier, during a period long before humans were thought to have arrived on the continent.

University of Wollongong archaeologist Professor Richard Fullagar joined the team studying the Cerutti Mastodon site in 2015, brought in for his expertise in impact and wear marks on stone tools. 

The Mike Morwood Memorial Website

A dedicated website has been developed and will be used as a memorial to Mike and the legacy he has left. Visit Mike's memorial website.