Skip to main content

Exceptional Preservation of Fossils

ARC Laureate Fellowship Project


Interpreting the molecular record in extraordinarily preserved fossils: An unexplored archive of Earth’s environment over geological time

This Laureate project aims to unlock an untapped record of our planet’s past, by analysing fossils for new evidence of natural products, in the form of preserved biochemicals or their recognisable degradation products (biomarkers). The well-studied inorganic fossil record has provided a framework for understanding major events in the evolution of life and our planet. However, the proposed project aims to significantly advance current perceptions, by accessing the parallel but rarer organic record of ancient organisms entombed and exceptionally preserved in concretion fossils. Determination of the mechanics and controls of the rapid biofilm entrapment of these organic remains will also contribute valuable new information about geobiological functionality. Expected outcomes from an extension of the fossilised biomarker record are a new way for interpreting our planet’s past, with improved understanding of extinction, environmental change and consequent adaptation.

Completing the Story of Fossilization
Preservation of Fossils: Normal, Selective and Exceptional
Project Personnel
Project Media
Project Publications

Project Personnel

ARC Laureate Fellow

  • Professor Kliti Grice, FRACI CChem, FGSEAG, FAA

Senior Research Fellow

  • Dr Navdeep Dhami
  • Dr Paul Greenwood

Adjunct Research Fellow

  • Dr Madison Tripp

Research Associate

  • Dr Amy Elson
  • Dr Maria Diaz Mateus
  • Dr Stephen Poropat
  • Dr Christopher Taylor

Senior Technical Officer

  • Dr Alex Holman
  • Mr Peter Hopper

Outreach Officer

  • Ms Lisa Smith

PhD Scholars

  • Luke Brosnan
  • Andy Jian
  • Adele Pentland
  • Morgane Perret Lévesque
  • Syed Amir Ali Shah
  • Hridya Vijay


  • Prof. Derek Briggs – Yale University
  • Dr Jasmina Wiemann – Caltech
  • A/Prof. Jessica Whiteside – University of Southampton
  • Prof. Lorenz Schwark – University of Kiel
  • A/Prof. Marco Coolen- Curtin University
  • Prof. Michael Archer – UNSW
  • Prof. Morten Allentoft – Curtin University
  • Prof. Suzanne Hand – UNSW
  • Dr Vera Korasidis – University of Melbourne
  • Prof. Vivi Vajda – Swedish Museum of Natural History
  • Field Museum, Chicago
  • Smithsonian Institution

Project Publications

  • Dhami, N.K.Greenwood, P.F.Poropat, S.F.Tripp, M.Elson, A.Vijay, H.Brosnan, L.Holman, A.I., Campbell, M.A., Hopper, P.Smith, L.Jian, A.Grice, K., 2023. Microbially mediated fossil concretions and their characterization by the latest methodologies: A review. Frontiers in Microbiology 14, 1225411.
  • Pentland, A.H.Poropat, S.F., 2023. A review of the Jurassic and Cretaceous Gondwanan pterosaur record. Gondwana Research 119, 341-383.
  • Pentland, A.H., Vickers-Rich, P., Rich, T.H., Rigby, S.L., Poropat, S.F., 2023. Oldest pterosaur remains from Australia: evidence from the Lower Cretaceous (lower Albian) Eumeralla Formation of Victoria. Historical Biology, in press.
  • Poropat, S.F., Bell, P.R., Hart, L.J., Salisbury, S.W., Kear, B.P., 2023. An annotated checklist of Australian Mesozoic tetrapods. Alcheringa 47, 129-205.
  • Poropat, S.F., Mannion, P.D., Rigby, S.L., Duncan, R.J., Pentland, A.H., Bevitt, J.J., Sloan, T., Elliott, D.A., 2023. A nearly complete skull of the sauropod dinosaur Diamantinasaurus matildae from the Upper Cretaceous Winton Formation of Australia and implications for the early evolution of titanosaurs. Royal Society Open Science 10, 221618.
  • Tripp, M.Schwark, L., Brocks, J.J., Mayer, P., Whiteside, J.H., Rickard, W., Greenwood, P.F.Grice, K., 2023. Rapid encapsulation of true ferns and arborane/fernane compounds fossilised in siderite concretions supports analytical distinction of plant fossils. Scientific Reports 13, 19851 .