Features » SAIAB Annual Smith Memorial Lecture

 SAIAB hosted its 2021 Virtual Smith Memorial Lecture on Thursday, 23 September.

‘Time and the River’ was presented by Professor Paul Skelton, former Director of NRF-SAIAB.

Systematic ichthyology has, in the past 50 years, experienced extensive revolutionary change in both paradigmatic and technological aspects. I arrived on the scene just as the cladistic revolution was taking off, and was fortunate to have as mentor a young disciple of the new order, Dr Rick Winterbottom, recently arrived in town as the senior ichthyologist in the JLBSII. Thus phylogenetic relationships based on shared derived characteristics was the driving theme of my own research into the redfins, as well as for setting the quest for all our freshwater fishes at that time. The second revolutionary theme was closely tied to the determination of cladistics relationships – namely the scientific interpretation of biogeography in which a solid understanding of earth history was the driving issue – the chicken that laid the egg, and not the other way around! The third dimension that has brought a revolution to the science is, of course, technological advances, both in molecular analysis and in the computational fields of pattern analysis and statistics. As a result we have witnessed what can only be described as a tsunami of change in the understanding of earth history, phylogenetic relationships of this fauna and the links between the two. The lecture explored these aspects with particular regard to the freshwater fishes of the far south of Africa. READ MORE 


The recording of the Lecture is now available from our YouTube Channel: