Branch Talk: Messenger from the Deep Time: New insights on Malaysian mammals

Speaker: Lim Tze Tshen

When: Sat 8 Apr 2023 at 10am

Where: Rimba Ilmu Auditorium, Universiti Malaya

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Price: Free, but a refundable RM10 per person to secure your place

Register and pay by: 5 April 2023



10:00am  Registration

10:05am  Refreshments

10:15am  Talk by Lim Tze Tshen, President of the Paleontological Society of Malaysia  

11.15am  Q&A session

11.30am  End of program (Collect refund)

As part of the Sundaic biogeographic sub-region, Malaysia is home to a highly diverse mammal fauna remarkable not only in terms of the sheer number of species but also in the diversity of sizes and forms, behaviours, ecological relations, and the habitat types occupied. How it became so? Surely, such a unique fauna must have had a history of its own. But, how far back in the geological timescale can we trace the evolutionary history of the many species which make up the mammal fauna we see today? A fascinating question that perhaps can only be answered satisfactorily using the ‘hard’ evidence preserved in rocks and ancient soil layers – fossil and prehistoric remains of bygone animals. Recent paleontological and zooarchaeological surveys in the country have added another dimension of appreciation of the diversity – the great antiquity of the modern-day mammal fauna. Building up upon results from previous works conducted in the decades well before the establishment of the nation as an independent country, new studies and discoveries, on one hand, continue to enrich our knowledge about the past history of present-day fauna, but on the other hand challenge some of the conventional views. This talk will explore some of the new insights/ideas we gained through a series of studies, conducted since at least 2006, based on the fossil and zooarchaeological mammal remains from Peninsular Malaysia, Sabah, and Sarawak. Topics relevant to modern-day large mammal conservation and biological sciences (such as habitat fragmentation, extinction, hunting pressure, re-wilding, indigenous vs. introduced species) will be discussed in the context of paleontological and zooarchaeological studies.   

Lim Tze Tshen is a zooarchaeologist and vertebrate paleontologist. He graduated from the University of Cambridge MPhil programme (zooarchaeology) in 2018. From 2019 to 2020, as part of the Sarawak Museum Campus Project & Heritage Trail, he was attached to the Sarawak Museum Department as a research fellow and guest curator for the zooarchaeology collection. His main tasks in this capacity, apart from providing technical support to local museum staff in the scientific display of zooarchaeological materials at the Borneo Cultures Museum, were to carry out scientific studies on the animal remains collected from archaeological sites across Sarawak, with special focus on those from the Great Cave at Niah. Before this, he was appointed a research associate at the Zoology Museum in the Institute of Biological Sciences, Universiti Malaya from 2011 to 2012, where he studied the fossil and modern mammal bone collections. His current research topics focus on the evolution of southeast Asian Quaternary mammal faunas and their relation to paleo-environmental changes. He is now conducting detailed systematic studies on the collections of local mammal fossils kept in the Geology Department of Universiti Malaya. He is also president of the Paleontological Society of Malaysia (PaleoSOM).

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