UKZN biogeographer discusses conservation of the planet’s oldest living creatures at Crocworld

The monthly talk at Crocworld Conservation Centre will welcome renowned Professor of Biogeography, Serban Proches, on Saturday, 12 October from 9am to 10am where he will discuss his informative research on the global distribution of ancient plant and animal lineages in his talk – ‘Mapping the Earliest Living Branches of the Reptilian Tree’.

“We are very excited to welcome the esteemed Professor Proches to Crocword Conservation Centre for what is sure to be a most interesting presentation,” said Martin Rodrigues, Manager of Crocworld Conservation Centre. “The topic of reptiles is obviously one of great significance to the centre and the audience, will no doubt, be captivated by the tracing of modern reptiles through to the days of the dinosaur.”

Based at the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s (UKZN) Westville campus, Prof Serban Proches has been completing his field work across the globe – in Europe, the Middle East, Southeast Asia, Australia and southern Africa. The focus of Proches’ work has been the mapping of plant and animal lineages worldwide.

He will be talking about how molecular phylogenetics helps researchers understand the relationships between reptile groups and estimate their age, even in the absence of fossils. Through this work, they are able to list reptile lineages alive today, that were already in existence during the days of the dinosaurs.

“This work highlights how some less-than-expected groups are particularly distinctive, and, as such, have exceptional conservation value,” explained Proches. “These include many groups of geckos, legless lizards, blind and thread snakes. Some of these groups have limited global distributions, and are potentially at risk.”

In addition to the talk, audiences will also be treated to tea, coffee, scones and other baked eats – inclusive of the price of the talk – which will be supplied by the onsite restaurant, Fish Eagle Café. The cost of the tickets is R50 per person. For more information or to make a booking, contact the Morne van Zyl at the Fish Eagle Café on 083 658 7073 or email mvanzyl@cbl.co.za. Alternatively, contact Martin Rodrigues on 078 484 1859 or Crocworld Conservation Centre on 039 976 1103.