Kate Trinajstic

Favourite Thing: Discovering new fossils. It is fantastic to crack open a piece of rock and see something no-one has ever seen before.



Our Lady of Mercy Paramatta (NSW)


Bachelor of Science (Biology) Murdoch University 1996 PhD(Geology) University of Western Australia 2000

Work History:

Editor of Dinonews Western Australian Museum 2000 Research Fellow (Biostratigraphy) University of Western Australia 2001-2008 Curtin Research Fellow Curtin University 2009


Chemistry Department Curtin University

Current Job:

Palaeontology specializing in early vertebrate evolution and soft tissue preservation

Me and my work

I’m a paleontologist who is trying to understand how we evolved an internal skeleton. I am using the synchrotron in France to examine different types of mineralised tissues such as bone, cartilage and dentine, and why different groups of vertebrate animals have different types of mineralised tissues. I am also looking at how bone grows and as the bone grows how muscles remain attached.

Major gaps remain in our knowledge of the origin of novel vertebrate structures such as the mineralised skeleton; jaws and internal fertilisation. The fossil group I study are palcoderms, the oldest verterbates with jaws and paired pelvic and pectoral fins  myimage1.

Fossils provide direct evidence for major evolutionary transformations, as shown for example by our recent  discovery; that of demonstrated live birth, providing the earliest evidence of advanced reproductive structures including the presence of fossil embryos and an umbilical cord myimage2.

We named this fossil after Sir David Attenborough  myimage3

Me and my team are working to overcome the limited amount of information fossils provide (becasue usually only the bones are preserved myimage4)

through an unprecedented 3D study,

using CT scanning  myimage5

and  new synchrotron imaging of fossils myimage6,

allowing us to reconstruct fossil anatomy at the sub micron level myimage7.

This accuracy, not previously possible enables the construction of integrative hypotheses linking molecular and morphological evolution

My Typical Day

I dont have a typical day, that’s what I love! Sometimes I am doing field work seraching for fossils, other days discussing research with my team and students or preparing fossils from the rock, using the micro-CT scanner or writting a paper. everyday is an adventure

What I'd do with the money

I’d like to increase the fossil collection to loan to schools and provide material for the microscopes in schools program developed by WA’s chief scientisit

My Interview

How would you describe yourself in 3 words?

Inquisitive, Persevering, Enthusiastic

Who is your favourite singer or band?

David Bowie

What is the most fun thing you've done?

Presented my research to Sir David Attenborough after naming a fossil after him

If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!

That I could find a complete conodont in Australia, I had x-ray vision so i could see which rocks had good fossils in them without having to break the rocks, that i could see in living placoderm

What did you want to be after you left school?


Were you ever in trouble in at school?


What's the best thing you've done as a scientist?

co-discovered the earliest vertebrate embryos which showed placoderm (armoured fish) gave birth to love young

Tell us a joke.

What do you call a blind dinosaur? I don’t think he saurus (saw us)

Sports followed


Favourite team