The South Australian Museum is a major centre of exciting scientific discovery. Our institution plays an important global role as our scientists work to understand and conserve Australia's natural and cultural heritage for current and future generations.

Researchers embark on amazing adventures across the world to discover and describe new species of fauna and their relationship with the environment, provide valuable advice to policymakers, lawyers and corporations, and act as custodians of the Museum's extensive national collections.

Our scientists are world leaders in fields such as evolutionary biology, mineralogy, palaeontology and terrestrial invertebrates. Unlocked brings you the hidden gems from the South Australian Museum.

Be inspired as you unearth the secrets of our science.

  • 25 September 2015

    Antarctic life under the microscope

    Despite temperatures dropping well below -60 °C in Antarctica, micro-animals like nematodes (commonly known as roundworms), rotifers (wheel animals) and tardigrades (water bears), can survive the most extreme environmental conditions.

    These hardy and adaptable invertebrates - found in soil, ponds and lakes - are often among the first colonisers and last survivors in harsh environments.

    “These animals have been living in Antarctica, likely since before it was glaciated when it had a forest,” said Associate Professor Mark Stevens, South Australian Museum.

    “They are essentially relics of a continent that has had a huge amount of environmental change over a very long period of time.”

  • 08 June 2015

    Uncharted territory – South Australian Museum reveals secrets of the deep ocean

    The South Australian Museum is helping to explore the deep sea floor off southern Australian. The goal is to collect and describe the creatures that live there – some up to 2000 meters below sea level. Today, World Oceans Day is a chance to reflect on these mysteries of the ocean.

    “We’ve mapped the moon and even Mars, but we know very little about our oceans and the animals that live there, especially down deep,” said Dr Andrea Crowther, Collections Manager – Marine Invertebrates, South Australian Museum.

    “Healthy Oceans, Healthy Planet is the theme of World Oceans Day this year and it’s a chance to put the spotlight on these unexplored ecosystems,” Dr Crowther said.

    “We need to know what healthy ocean systems look like so that we can protect them and monitor changes over time.”

  • 15 May 2015

    Online volunteers help scientists speed up species discovery and focus research

    Worldwide, an estimated five million invertebrate species are yet to be described. Invertebrates – animals without a backbone or vertebral column – are the most abundant group of animals on earth and yet they are the least documented. In Australia alone there are around 98,000 described species and an estimated 222,000 that are still unknown to science.

    Scientists seeking to describe these species must compare them to similar specimens, held in natural history museums across Australia and around the world. Much of the important information on these specimens is only found on their collection label or in handwritten journals or registers.

    The South Australia Museum holds around two million specimens in its terrestrial invertebrate collection and around 1.75 million marine invertebrates. The Museum has begun a digitisation program to help address this backlog.