Mike Archer

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Mike Archer is a paleontologist who is best known for his involvement in the Riversleigh fossil site in Queensland, where over 40,000 specimens of 300 species were derived. Needless to say, it provided a big chunk of the puzzle of Australian fauna history. Apart from his active participation in fossil exploration, Mike is also the lead scientist of the “Lazarus Project” and has headed an experiment to bring back the extinct “Thylacine,” or what we now know as the Tasmanian Tiger. His work has earned him numerous accolades, including Fellowships of prestigious organizations and becoming a Member of the Order of Australia.


Why Mike Archer is Extraordinary

Not many people know the value of something until it’s gone; we have experienced this in the animal kingdom by having to contend with extinction issues every so often. But what if we could bring extinct species back to life? What if extinction does not have to happen anymore? This is what Mike Archer, former Dean of the Faculty of Science of the University of New South Wales (UNSW), Australia, has been trying to piece together with his “Lazarus project” and Thylacine undertaking.

Questioning the Vegetarian Concept

Mike recently published an article about how vegetarianism does not actually do much to help conserve animals and the environment. On the contrary, much of the arable land is now being used to grow vegetarian food to cope with the demand. He explained in his article:

"Agriculture to produce wheat, rice and pulses requires clear-felling native vegetation. That act alone results in the deaths of thousands of Australian animals and plants per hectare. Since Europeans arrived on this continent we have lost more than half of Australia’s unique native vegetation, mostly to increase production of monocultures of introduced species for human consumption.

Most of Australia’s arable land is already in use. If more Australians want their nutritional needs to be met by plants, our arable land will need to be even more intensely farmed. This will require a net increase in the use of fertilisers, herbicides, pesticides and other threats to biodiversity and environmental health. Or, if existing laws are changed, more native vegetation could be cleared for agriculture (an area the size of Victoria plus Tasmania would be needed to produce the additional amount of plant-based food required).

Most cattle slaughtered in Australia feed solely on pasture. This is usually rangelands, which constitute about 70% of the continent." (SOURCE: UNSW Newsroom)

Fellowships and Awards

Well, Mike is not the type to simply please people. This earned him the respect of his students, and he was once voted in UNSW as the “Best Lecturer.” He is also a recipient of numerous awards, such as the “Inaugural Queensland Museum Medal for Research,” the “Australian Heritage Award for Nature Conservation,” the “Inaugural Eureka Prize for the Promotion of Science,” the “Verco Medal,” the “Medal of the Riversleigh Society” and the “Australian Centennial Medal” from the Federal Government of Australia.

He is also a Fellow of the Royal Zoological Society of New South Wales, the World Academy of Arts & Sciences, the Australian College of Educators, Australia 21 and the Royal Society of New South Wales. He has two daughters, and lives with his partner in life and in science, Dr. Suzanne Hand.

Top Reasons why Mike Archer is Extraordinary

  1. Mike Archer helped obtain over 40,000 specimens of 300 species from the Riversleigh fossil site in Queensland, Australia.
  2. He headed the “Lazarus Project,” which explores the possibility of bringing back the extinct gastric-brooding frogs.
  3. He also heads other de-extinction initiatives, and one of his most-promising experiments involved “Thylacine,” or the Tazmanian Tiger, which went extinct in 1936.
  4. He was a Fullbright Scholar.
  5. He received the “Eureka Prize for the Promotion of Science.”
  6. He received the “UNSW Faculty of Science Staff Excellence Award for Best Lecturer.”
  7. He was listed among the “Top 100 Most Influential People in Sydney.”
  8. He was named a Member of the Order of Australia – AM by the Australian Federal Government.
  9. He is also a Fellow of the Royal Zoological Society of New South Wales, the World Academy of Arts & Sciences, the Australian College of Educators, Australia 21 and the Royal Society of New South Wales.
  10. He continues to serve as a Research Associate at the American Museum of Natural History.

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