2019 Fellow - Dr Ashleigh Hood

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28 October 2019

2019 Fellow - Dr Ashleigh Hood The hunt is on to find ancient life forms’


The University of Melbourne

The hunt is on to find ancient life forms


Dr Ashleigh Hood is a Geoscientist and reef hunter, searching the globe for ancient reefs, which she believes host our ancient life forms and information about animal evolution. No longer in the oceans, these 500 million year old reefs are preserved high in mountains across Canada, Namibia and Australia.

Ashleigh spends most of her time out in the field, and the ancient life forms that Ashleigh and her team find in these ancient reefs is not what you might suspect. They do not find fish or corals; in fact, sometimes they have no idea what they are looking at.

This is because the oceans 500 million years ago didn’t look like oceans we known today, they were black, with almost no oxygen. The theory of how life formed, survived and then evolved in this time remains a mystery.

Geology is a bit like a time machine. By studying ancient rocks, fossils or reefs we can get a glimpse into the life and the environment from that time.

Where we came from and where we are going is one of the most fundamental questions of life, and by understanding the history of life, we will get a better understanding of our future, and if other planets could harbor life.

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