She is the tooth researcher who is helping unlock the myths around Bigfoot and Yeti. And now PhD researcher Marian Bailey has stepped into the studio at Southern Cross University Lismore campus to chat with Snowy Frankland for the new much-anticipated SCU Buzz podcast.
On this week’s episode of the student-led podcast, Marian takes us into the fascinating world of narrowing down the extinction window for Gigantopithecus, the largest ape to ever live.
“As an archaeologist here at Southern Cross University I’m doing my PhD in archaeological geochemistry,” Marian said.
“People usually think of archaeology as something to do with the classics, Roman architecture or Egyptian pyramids, and while this is certainly archaeology, I focus more on the scientific analysis side.
“When you hear about how old something is, that’s usually because someone like me has used a dating method to work that out. Or for those of you who wonder what ancient humans ate, archaeological scientists like me are the ones who figure that out – not Pete Evans.
“My PhD is specifically focused on understanding why the Gigantopithecus blacki – one of the largest apes to have ever lived – went extinct.
“The re-discovery of this ape is part of the resurgence and excitement around the bigfoot and yeti myths.”
Marian describes using amazing, cutting edge instruments, including the only mass spectrometer of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere here at Southern Cross University. Using isotopic analysis, she produces elemental maps of their teeth, looking at trace elements like barium, strontium, lithium, lead and others, that the apes consumed throughout their lives.
“By doing this, I can figure out the types of plants they were eating, when they were weaned, if they encountered particular environmental stressors, and so on.”
Marian made the move from Western Australia to the East Coast pursue her PhD at Southern Cross University under the supervision of world-renowned researcher Dr Renaud Joannes-Boyau – a leader in geochemistry and archelogy.
Dr Joannes-Boyau has had publications in scientific journal ‘Nature’ and made world news headlines for his work in understanding ancient human ancestors through analysing their teeth right here at Southern Cross University in his lab at Lismore campus.
Listen to more of Marian’s story on this week’s episode of SCU Buzz at soundcloud.com/southerncrossuniversity