Karoo Palaeontology Department
 
 

Staff

SPECIALIST Museum Scientist
and Head of Department

Jennifer Botha Brink

Jennifer Botha-Brink PhD, Pr Sci Nat    jbotha [at] nasmus [dot] co [dot] za

My research interests are in palaeobiology and palaeoecology, focusing on the life history responses of extinct vertebrates to environmental change. Using the Permo-Triassic Mass Extinction (PTME) as a model, I use a variety of techniques, including biostratigraphy, morphology and osteohistology, to test theories regarding differential species survival during mass extinctions. I have a special interest in osteohistology, the study of fossil bone microstructure, which provides novel information about the life history of the vertebrates associated with the PTME.

My PhD research (University of Cape Town, 2002) entailed the development and application of a variety of techniques used to assess the biology of extinct vertebrates, including osteohistology and stable isotope analysis, focusing on the palaeohistology of cynodont therapsids (the ancient ancestors of mammals). Thereafter, I took up a postdoctoral fellowship at the Iziko Museums of South Africa, during which time I focused largely on the biostratigraphy of the Permo-Triassic Karoo Basin. Since 2005, I have been head of the Karoo Palaeontology Department of the National Museum, Bloemfontein and Affiliated Researcher with the Department of Zoology and Entomology at the University of the Free State, where I have established a long-term research programme studying macro- and micro-skeletal structure, as well as spatial and temporal distributions of Permo-Triassic fossil vertebrates to gain a deeper understanding of the biotic crisis associated with the PTME.

I have presented or co-authored more than 30 conference presentations at both national conferences and abroad, published more than 35 articles in national and international scientific journals and am a B-rated scientist (National Research Foundation). Current research interests include the biology and ecology of Permo-Triassic vertebrates, the end-Permian mass extinction event and subsequent recovery, and the bone histology of fossil vertebrates.


Collections Manager
and Principal Research Assistant

Elize Butler is a National Museum Staff Member in the Palaeontology department

Elize Butler MSc    elize [dot] butler [at] nasmus [dot] co [dot] za

Elize Butler has been working at the National Museum since 1993. She obtained a BSc degree from the University of the Free State, majoring in Zoology and Botany and an Honours degree in Zoology. She recently completed an MSc thesis (cum laude) entitiled "The post-cranial skeleton of the Early Triassic non-mammalian cynodont Galesaurus planiceps: implications for biology and lifestyle". As Collections Manager she is responsible for the Geology and Palaeontology Collections at the Museum. This includes curating the collection, managing and maintaining the database and handling enquiries by scientists and members of the public.


Fossil preparators

Specialist Preparator

John Nyaphuli is a National Museum Staff Member in the Palaeontology department

John Nyaphuli

John has been a member of the Palaeontology Department since 1973. He is one of South Africa’s most renowned preparators and is well-known for his fine preparation. John has also discovered numerous fossils in the field, two of which have been named after him (Australosyodon nyaphuli and Patranomodon nyaphuli). In 2004, John received an Honorary Life Membership from the The Palaeontological Society of Southern Africa for his outstanding contribution to Palaeontology.


Chief Preparator

Joël Mohoi is a National Museum Staff Member in the Palaeontology department

Joël Mohoi

Joël has been working at the Museum since 1975. His field of expertise lies in the preparation of both small and larger fossil specimens. He is responsible for all the casting and moulding of specimens in the Department and in the palaeontological exhibitions. Joël has also found numerous fossils in the field, one of which one has been named after him (Lanthanostegus mohoii).


Senior Preparator

NNthaopa Ntheri is a National Museum Staff Member in the Palaeontology department

Nthaopa Ntheri

Nthaopa worked at the Bernard Price Institute for Palaeontological Research (BPI) at the University of the Witwatersrand for five years before he joined the Palaeontology Department of the Museum in 2006. He prepares both small and larger fossil specimens. He is also an experienced fossil finder in the field and was responsible for finding an almost complete, fully articulated Erythrosuchus africanus skeleton in 2008.


Preparator

Sharon Ledibane

Sharon Ledibane

Sharon has been a member of the Palaeontology Department of the Museum since 2006. She prepares mainly larger fossils and occasionally assists with field work.


Preparator

 Sina Chaka

Sina began working for the Museum in 2011. She is currently in training under the mentorship of our specialist preparator, Mr John Nyaphuli.


Preparator

William Molehe

William became a member of the Palaeontology Department in 2011. He is currently in training under the mentorship of our specialist preparator, Mr John Nyaphuli.