Dr Jim Gehling

Honorary Research Associate Palaeontology

+61 8 8207 7441


Jim joined the Museum as an Honorary Research Associate in 2000. Since 2004, he has been a Senior Research Scientist.


Position at Other Organisation

  • Affiliate Professor, Sprigg Geobiology Centre, University of Adelaide


Research Interests         

After a career teaching Earth and Environmental Sciences at the University of South Australia, Jim has devoted time and energy with the South Australian Museum to the quest of understanding and explaining the evolution of early animal life on Earth.  His main field of research and interpretation is the palaeobiology and environmental setting of the oldest known animal fossils, the Ediacara biota and the Emu Bay Biota from South Australia. This work begins with the spectacular rocks and fossils of the Flinders Ranges and Kangaroo Island in South Australia, and extends to working on fossil-bearing strata of the same age in Canada, the USA, the UK, China and Namibia.

Jim is keen to develop public awareness of the rich geological heritage of South Australia. This is being achieved through development of the South Australian Museum’s Ediacaran Fossils gallery, preparing popular publications, and developing interpretation facilities for the appreciation of the history of life and environments in South Australia.


Current Research Projects

Palaeoecology and environmental settings of the Ediacara biota in the Flinders Ranges.  J. G. Gehling, M. Droser (University California Riverside), M.-A. Binnie, .D. Rice, and Volunteers C. Peddie, J. Perry and V. Harris.

Biology and environments of the Cambrian fossils of the Emu Bay biota on Kangaroo Island.  J. G. Gehling, J. Paterson (University of New England), J. Jago (University of South Australia), D. Garcia Bellido (University of Adelaide), G. Edgecombe (Natural History Museum, UK) and M. Gemmell.


Awards & Achievements                            

  • Center for the Study of the Evolution and Origin of Life Fellowship, University of California. Los Angeles (1992–1994.

  • William E. White Post-Doctoral Research Fellowship, Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada (1998–2000)

  • Chair, Ediacaran Subcommission, International Commission on Stratigraphy (2004–2012)


Professional Associations           

  • Member, Geological Society of Australia

  • Member, Paleontological Association

  • Member, Royal Society of South Australia



  • BSc (Hons), University of Adelaide (1972)

  • MSc, University of Adelaide (1983)

  • PhD, University of California, Los Angeles (1996)


Community Engagement   

Gehling, J. G.  National Heritage Listed Ediacara Fossil Site at Nilpena.  Lecture to Australasian Heads of Geological Surveys, Parachilna, 17 April 2013.

Gehling, J. G. Fossils of Ediacara biota: What did the first animals eat?  Sprigg Lecture Series, South Australian Museum, Adelaide, 11 September 2012.


Media Expertise

Evolution of early life on Earth including fossils of the Ediacara biota of the Flinders Ranges and the Emu Bay biota of Kangaroo Island.

Geological heritage conservation and interpretation in South Australia.



  1. Gehling, J. G. and Droser, M. L. (2013). How well do fossil assemblages of the Ediacara Biota time? Geology 41: 447–450.

  2. Gehling, J. G. and Droser, M. L. (2012). Ediacaran stratigraphy and the biota of the Adelaide Geosyncline, South Australia. Episodes 35: 236–246.

  3. Lee, M. S. Y., Jago, J. B., García-Bellido, D. C., Edgecombe, G. D., Gehling J. G., and Paterson, J.R. (2011).  Modern optics in exceptionally preserved eyes of Early Cambrian arthropods from Australia. Nature 474:, 631–634.

  4. Gehling, J. G. and Droser, M. L. (2009). Textured organic surfaces associated with the Ediacara biota in South Australia. Earth Science Reviews 96: 196–206.

  5. Fedonkin, M. A., Gehling, J. G., Grey, K., Narbonne, G. M. and Vickers-Rich, P. (2008). The Rise of Animals.  Evolution and Diversification of the Kingdom Animalia.  302 pp.  Washington: Johns Hopkins Press.

  6. Droser, M. L. and Gehling, J. G. (2008). Reproduction and synchronous aggregate growth in a new Ediacaran tubular organism. Science 319: 1660–1662.

  7. Gehling, J. G. and Narbonne, G. M. (2007).  Spindle-shaped Ediacara fossils from the Mistaken Point assemblage, Avalon Zone, Newfoundland. Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences 44: 367–387.

  8. Gehling, J. G., Droser, M. L., Jensen, S. R., and Runnegar, B. N. (2005).  ‘Ediacaran organisms: relating form and function’ in Briggs, D. E. G. (ed.)  Evolving Form and Function: Fossils and Development: Proceedings of a Symposium Honouring Adolf Seilacher, pp. 43–67.  New Haven: Peabody Museum of Natural History; Yale University.

  9. Gehling, J. G., Narbonne. G. M., and Anderson, M. M. (2000). The first named Ediacaran body fossil: Aspidella terranovica Billings 1872. Palaeontology 43: 427–456.

  10. Gehling, J. G. (2000).  Sequence stratigraphic context of the Ediacara Member, Rawnsley Quartzite, South Australia: a taphonomic window into the Neoproterozoic biosphere. Precambrian Research 100: 65–95.