New Curator of Vertebrate Zoology and Palaeontology

The Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery (TMAG) is delighted to welcome Dr David Hocking as its new Senior Curator of Vertebrate Zoology and Palaeontology.

David is a leading expert on the evolution of Australian and Southern Ocean marine mammals. His work combines traditional palaeontology and natural history with cutting-edge technology to better understand how animals work and why they behave like they do.

Beyond the water’s edge, his work also extends to exploring behaviour and biomechanics in snakes, wombats, devils and Australia’s extinct marsupial megafauna.

Prior to joining TMAG, David worked as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Monash University, and he has also worked closely with Museums Victoria as a research associate, fossil preparator and exhibition curator.

He said that he was excited to be joining TMAG and making the move south to Tasmania.

“This beautiful island is blessed with an extraordinary diversity of rare and iconic wildlife, including some that occurs nowhere else on Earth,” David said.

“In this role, I aim to connect wildlife with our communities, sharing my passion for the amazing creatures that call lutruwita home!”

To tell the stories of these animals, David plans to deploy high-tech tools that bring our collections to life, taking advantage of the recent advances in 3D scanning and printing technologies to re-animate natural history objects with 3D visualisations and augmented reality.

“My work combines watching wildlife in the field with studying museum specimens, to help us understand the choices animals are making in their lives,” David said.

“This can lead to insights that inform how we conserve and manage today’s species, but it can also reveal new information about how extinct species from the fossil record lived in the deep past.”

One of David’s first assignments as TMAG’s new Vertebrate Zoology Curator is to join the Zoology and Herbarium teams on the Bush Blitz expedition to Stony Head in Tasmania’s north, which gets underway today.

A collaboration between Bush Blitz, the Department of Defence through the Stony Head Military Training area, the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery (QVMAG) and TMAG, the expedition aims to gather data that will assist in the ongoing management of the site while also improving the knowledge of the existence and location of Australia’s terrestrial biodiversity in general.

Bush Blitz is confident that new species will be discovered on this expedition, as over 1 730 new species have discovered by the program since 2010. This will be the 40th expedition undertaken and the 7th in Tasmania.

“These expeditions allow us to capture a record of what species live here at this moment in time,” David said.

“This is essential knowledge for us to be able to track how species are doing, by allowing us to compare what we find now with what was found here in the past.”

Stay tuned to TMAG’s social media channels for more updates from David and the rest of the team over the next two weeks to find out more about what they uncover.

Image details: Explore a 3D model of Dr David Hocking in the cetacean collection at TMAG’s Rosny Collections and Research facility, created via the Sketchfab platform.