Position

Matthew Flinders Fellow
Biological Sciences

Biography

I am interested in broad-scale patterns of evolution, such as major changes in body plan, or why some groups speciate much more rapidly than others. Reptiles are typically the research focus, though I also collaborate with workers on other groups such as birds, mammals and even arthropods. We have recently obtained major funding to work on snake evolution (see below).

I grew up in Queensland (mainly Brisbane) in the 80s, and spent most of my childhood catching and examining any creature that moved, much to my parents horror. I now ostensibly get to do this for a living, except that with encroaching age and committments my research is moving more into theoretical and computational areas. I think Bayesian methods are the future of science.

My Google Scholar, and Academia profiles.

Qualifications

  • B.Sc (Hons) in Zoology from the University of Queensland, supervised by Barrie Jamieson.
  • Ph.D (Zoology/Palaeontology) from the University of Cambridge, supervised by Jenny Clack FRS.

Honours, awards and grants

AWARDS

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RESEARCH GRANTS (only current projects listed)

  • Lee MSY (sole CI). Integrating fossils and genomes to resolve the early evolution of snakes. Australian Research Council (ARC) Discovery Grant. $351 000 (2016, 2017, 2018)
  • Long JA (lead CI), Lee MSY et al. Resolving evolutionary problems at the fish-tetrapod transition. Australian Research Council (ARC) Discovery Grant. $491 000 (2016, 2017, 2018)
  • Sanders, KL and Lee MSY. Biodiversity of critically endangered but poorly-known sea snakes in northwest Australia. Australian Biological Resources Study (ABRS). $30 000 (2014, 2015, 2016).
  • Thomson V (lead CI), Jones, MEH, Sumner, J, Lee, MSY, Hutchinson MN, Sanders KL. Testing co-evolutionary processes driving venom diversity in tiger snakes. Australian Research Council (ARC) Linkage Grant. $164 000 (2017, 2018, 2019)

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POSTDOCS & STUDENTS (current)

  • Alessandro Palci, ARC-funded Postdoc. Early evolution of snakes; limb loss in reptiles.
  • Ben King, Ph.D student. Basal vertebrate evolution (associate supervisor, with John Long).
  • Kailah Thorne, Ph.D student. Fossils and morphological evolution of Egernia group skinks (primary supervisor, with Mark Hutchinson and Gavin Prideaux).
  • Catherine Nielsen, Hons student. Sphenomorphine skink fossils and evolution (primary supervisor, with Mark Hutchinson).
  • James Holmes, Postgraduate Student via U of Adelaide. Cambrian Explosion (primary supervisor, now external supervisor).

INTERESTED IN JOINING OUR GROUP?

  • I have recently joined Flinders and can now accept students and postdocs via Flinders.
  • Click on the "Research and Supervision" tab above for further details.

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Teaching interests

I am part of the FLINDERS PALAEONTOLOGY GROUP, one of the best places in Australia to study the deep history of life. This consists of the labs of following academic staff and research fellows addressing questions across all vertebrates - from fish to mammals, and the Cambrian to the Anthropocene.

Research expertise

  • Evolutionary biology
  • Other earth sciences
  • Zoology

Research interests

PUBLICATIONS CAN BE VIEWED AND DOWNLOADED HERE:

https://flinders.academia.edu/MichaelLee

All papers can be downloaded if you join the above website; faster than asking for reprints.

Some representative recent papers:

  • King, B. and Lee, M.S.Y. 2015. Ancestral state reconstruction, rate heterogeneity, and the evolution of reptile viviparity. Systematic Biology 64 (3): 532-544.
  • Lee, M.S.Y., Cau, A., Naish, D., Dyke G. J. 2014. Sustained miniaturisation and evolutionary novelty in the dinosaurian ancestors of birds. Science 345: 562-566.
  • Mitchell, K.J. Llamas, B., Soubrier, J., Rawlence, N.J., Worthy, T.H., Lee, M.S.Y., Cooper, A. 2014. Ancient DNA unites elephant birds with kiwis and clarifies ratite evolution. Science 344: 898-900.
  • Lee, M.S.Y., Soubrier, J., Edgecombe, G.D. 2013. Rates of phenotypic and genomic evolution during the Cambrian explosion. Current Biology 23: 1889-1895.
  • Sanders, K.L., Rasmussen, A.R., Mumpuni, Elmberg, J., Silva, A., Guinea, M.L., Lee, M.S.Y. 2013. Recent rapid speciation and ecomorph divergence in Indo-Australian sea snakes (Hydrophiinae). Molecular Ecology 10: 2742–2759.
  • Paterson, J. R., García-Bellido, D.C., Lee, M.S.Y., Brock, G.A., Jago, J.B., Edgecombe, G.D. 2011. Acute vision in the giant Cambrian predator Anomalocaris and the origin of compound eyes. Nature 480(7376): 237-240. [cover article]
  • Lee, M.S.Y., Jago, J.B., García-Bellido, D.C., Edgecombe, G.D., Gehling, J.G., Paterson, J.R. 2011. Modern optics in exceptionally preserved eyes of Early Cambrian arthropods from Australia. Nature 474: 631-634.

GOOGLE SCHOLAR PROFILE, click here.

ACADEMIA PROFILE, click here.

MEDIA COVERAGE OF RESEARCH, click on "Community Engagement"

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PH.D AND HONS SUPERVISION: I am able to supervise projects in the research areas below; most of my recent students have submitted. My projects typically require quantitative skills in phylogenetics, comparative methods or related areas (or the desire to quickly learn these). Fondness for reptiles and/or fossils is optional. See publications above to get a flavour for what is possible.

Supervisory interests

  • Bayesian analysis in time series or bioinformatics
  • Biogeography
  • Cambrian explosion
  • Evolution
  • Herpetology
  • Macroevolution
  • Palaeobiology
  • Palaeontology
  • Phylogenetics
  • Systematics
  • Vertebrate palaeontology

RHD research supervision

Current

Principal supervisor : Evolutionary Biology (2) ;

Associate supervisor : Vertebrate palaeontology (1) ;

RHD Student Achievements

  • Benedict King
    Best Student Paoer - August 2016

Publications

  • Lee, M.S. (2014). Michael S. Y. Lee (Australia) In Marcelo R Sanchez-Villagra & Norman MacLeod, ed. Issues in Palaeobiology: A Global View Interviews and Essays. Zurich, Switzerland: Scidinge Hall Verlag, pp. 143-150.
  • Scanlon, J.D. and Lee, M.S. (2011). The Major Clades of Living Snakes: Morphological Evolution, Molecular Phylogeny, and Divergence Dates. In Robert Aldridge, David M Sever, ed. Reproductive Biology and Phylogeny of Snakes. New Hampshire, UK: Science Publishers, pp. 55-96.
    [10.1201/b10879-4]
  • Lee, M.S. (2011). Macroevolutionary consequences of “spatial sorting” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 108(31) pp. E347.
  • Lee, M.S., Sanders, K.L., King, B. and Palci, A. (2016). Diversification rates and phenotypic evolution in venomous snakes (Elapidae) Royal Society Open Science, 3(1) pp. 150277.
    [10.1098/rsos.150277] [Scopus]
  • Paterson, J.R., Garcia-Bellido, D.C., Jago, J.B., Gehling, J.G., Lee, M.S. and Edgecombe, G.D. (2016). The Emu Bay Shale Konservat-Lagerstätte: a view of Cambrian life from East Gondwana. JOURNAL OF THE GEOLOGICAL SOCIETY, 173 pp. 1-11.
    [10.1144/jgs2015-083]
  • Worthy, T., Mitri, M., Handley, W.D., Lee, M.S., Anderson, A. and Sand, C. (2016). Osteology supports a stem-Galliform affinity for the giant extinct flightless bird Sylviornis neocaledoniae (Sylviornithidae, Galloanseres). PLoS One, 11(3) pp. Art: e0150871.
    [10.1371/journal.pone.0150871]
  • Lee, M.S. and Ho, S.Y.W. (2016). Molecular Clocks. Current Biology, 26(10) pp. R399-R402.
    [10.1016/j.cub.2016.03.071] [Scopus]
  • Bertozzi, T., Lee, M.S. and Donnellan, S. (2016). Stingray diversification across the end-cretaceous extinctions. Memoirs of Museum Victoria, 74 pp. 379-390.
    [Web Link] [Web Link]
  • King, B., Qiao, T., Lee, M.S., Min, Z. and Long, J.A. (2016). Bayesian Morphological ClockMethods Resurrect Placoderm Monophyly and Reveal Rapid Early Evolution in Jawed Vertebrates. Systematic Biology,
    [10.1093/sysbio/syw107]
  • King, B. and Lee, M.S. (2015). Epoch-based likelihood models reveal no evidence for accelerated evolution of viviparity in squamate reptiles in response to cenozoic climate change. JOURNAL OF EXPERIMENTAL ZOOLOGY PART B-MOLECULAR AND DEVELOPMENTAL EVOLUTION, 324(6) pp. 525-531.
    [Scopus]
  • King, B. and Lee, M.S. (2015). Ancestral state reconstruction, rate heterogeneity, and the evolution of reptile viviparity. Systematic Biology, 64(3) pp. 532-544.
    [Scopus]
  • Lee, M.S. and Palci, A. (2015). Morphological Phylogenetics in the Genomic Age. Current Biology, 25 pp. R922-R929.
    [Scopus]
  • Llamas, B., Brotherton, P.M., Mitchell, K.J., Templeton, J.E., Thomson, V.A., Metcalf, J., et al. (2015). Late Pleistocene Australian Marsupial DNA Clarifies the Affinities of Extinct Megafaunal Kangaroos and Wallabies. MOLECULAR BIOLOGY AND EVOLUTION, 32(3) pp. 574-584.
    [10.1093/molbev/msu338]
  • Ukuwela, K.D.B., Lee, M.S., Rasmussen, A.R., de Silva, A., Mumpuni, , Fry, B.G., et al. (2015). Evaluating the drivers of Indo-Pacific biodiversity: speciation and dispersal of sea snakes (Elapidae: Hydrophiinae) Journal of Biogeography, 43 pp. 243-255.
    [Scopus]
  • Lee, M.S. and Beck, R.M.D. (2015). Mammalian Evolution: A Jurassic Spark. Current Biology, 25(17) pp. R759-R761.
    [Scopus]
  • Garcia-Bellido, D.C., Lee, M.S., Edgecombe, G.D., Jago, J.B., Gehling, J.G. and Paterson, J.R. (2015). A new vetulicolian from Australia and its bearing on the chordate affinities of an enigmatic Cambrian group. BMC Evolutionary Biology, 14(214)
    [10.1186/s12862-014-0214-z]
  • Lee, M.S., Cau, A., Naish, D. and Dyke, G.J. (2014). Sustained miniaturization and anatomical innovation in the dinosaurian ancestors of birds. Science, 345(6196) pp. 562-566.
    [10.1126/science.1252243] [Scopus]
  • Beck, R.M.D. and Lee, M.S. (2014). Ancient dates or accelerated rates? Morphological clocks and the antiquity of placental mammals. Proceedings of The Royal Society of London Series B: Biological Sciences, 281(1793) pp. 1-10.
    [Scopus]
  • Mitchell, K.J., Pratt, R.C., Watson, L.N., Gibb, G.C., Llamas, B., Kasper, M.L., et al. (2014). Molecular phylogeny, biogeography, and habitat preference evolution of Marsupials. MOLECULAR BIOLOGY AND EVOLUTION, 31(9) pp. 2322-2330.
    [10.1093/molbev/msu176] [Scopus]
  • Oliver, P.M., Skipwith, P. and Lee, M.S. (2014). Crossing the line: increasing body size in a trans-Wallacean lizard radiation (Cyrtodactylus, Gekkota) Biology Letters, 10
    [Scopus]
  • Mitchell, K., Llamas, B., Soubrier, J., Rawlence, N., Worthy, T., Wood, J., et al. (2014). Ancient DNA reveals elephant birds and kiwi are sister taxa and clarifies ratite bird evolution. Science, 344 pp. 898-900.
    [10.1126/science.1251981] [Scopus]
  • Lee, M.S., Cau, A., Naish, D. and Dyke, G.J. (2014). Morphological clocks in palaeontology, and a mid-Cretaceous origin of crown Aves. Systematic Biology, 63(3) pp. 442-449.
    [10.1093/sysbio/syt110] [Scopus]
  • Lee, M.S. (2013). Palaeontology: Turtles in Transition. Current Biology, 23(12) pp. pR513-R515.
    [Scopus]
  • Alloing-Seguier, L., Sanchez-Villagra, M.R., Lee, M.S. and Lebrun, R. (2013). The Bony Labyrinth in Diprotodontian Marsupial Mammals: Diversity in Extant and Extinct Forms and Relationships with Size and Phylogeny. Journal of Mammalian Evolution, 20(3) pp. 191.
    [10.1007/s10914-013-9228-3] [Scopus]
  • Lee, M.S., Skinner, A. and Camacho, A. (2013). The relationship between limb reduction, body elongation and geographical range in lizards (Lerista, Scincidae) Journal of Biogeography, 40(7) pp. 1290-1297.
    [Scopus]
  • Lee, M.S., Soubrier, J. and Edgecombe, G.D. (2013). Rates of Phenotypic and Genomic Evolution during the Cambrian Explosion. Current Biology, 23(19) pp. 1889-1895.
    [10.1016/j.cub.2013.07.055] [Scopus]
  • Sanders, K.L., Lee, M.S., Mumpuni, , Bertozzi, T. and Rasmussen, A.R. (2013). Multilocus phylogeny and recent rapid radiation of the viviparous sea snakes (Elapidae: Hydrophiinae) Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 66 pp. 575-591.
    [Scopus]
  • Sanders, K.L., Rasmussen, A.R., Mumpuni, , Elmberg, J., de Silva, A., Guinea, M., et al. (2013). Recent rapid speciation and ecomorph divergence in Indo-Australian sea snakes. Molecular Ecology, 22(10) pp. 2742-2759.
    [10.1111/mec.12291] [Scopus]
  • Skinner, A., Hutchinson, M.N. and Lee, M.S. (2013). Phylogeny and divergence times of Australian Sphenomorphus group skinks (Scincidae, Squamata) Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 69(3) pp. 906-918.
    [10.1016/j.ympev.2013.06.014] [Scopus]
  • Ukuwela, K.D.B., de Silva, A., Mumpuni, , Fry, B.G., Lee, M.S. and Sanders, K.L. (2013). Molecular evidence that the deadliest sea snake Enhydrina schistosa (Elapidae: Hydrophiinae) consists of two convergent species. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 66 pp. 262-269.
    [Scopus]
  • Lee, M.S. (2013). Turtle origins: insights from phylogenetic retrofitting and molecular scaffolds. Journal of Evolutionary Biology, 26(12) pp. 2729-2739.
    [10.1111/jeb.12268] [Scopus]
  • Johnston, G.R., Lee, M.S. and Surasinghe, T.D. (2013). Morphology and allometry suggest multiple origins of rostral appendages in Sri Lankan agamid lizards. Journal of Zoology, 289(1) pp. 1-9.
    [10.1111/j.1469-7998.2012.00962.x] [Scopus]
  • Soubrier, J., Steel, M., Lee, M.S., Der Sarkissian, C., Guindon, S., Ho, S.Y.W., et al. (2012). The influence of rate heterogeneity among sites on the time dependence of molecular rates. MOLECULAR BIOLOGY AND EVOLUTION, 29(11) pp. 3345-3358.
    [10.1093/molbev/mss140] [Scopus]
  • Sanders, K.L., Rasmussen, A.R., Elmberg, J., Mumpuni, , Guinea, M., Blias, P., et al. (2012). Aipysurus mosaicus, a new species of egg-eating sea snake (Elapidae: Hydrophiinae), with a redescription of Aipysurus eydouxii (Gray, 1849) Zootaxa, 3431 pp. 1-18.
    [Scopus]
  • Hutchinson, M.N., Skinner, A. and Lee, M.S. (2012). Tikiguania and the antiquity of squamate reptiles (lizards and snakes) Biology Letters, 8(4) pp. 665-669.
    [10.1098/rsbl.2011.1216] [Scopus]
  • Lee, M.S. and Skinner, A. (2011). Testing fossil calibrations for vertebrate molecular trees. ZOOLOGICA SCRIPTA, 40(5) pp. 538-543.
    [10.1111/j.1463-6409.2011.00488.x] [Scopus]
  • Lee, M.S., Jago, J.B., Garcia-Bellido, D.C., Edgecombe, G.D., Gehling, J.G. and Paterson, J.R. (2011). Modern optics in exceptionally preserved eyes of Early Cambrian arthropods from Australia. Nature, 474 pp. 631-634.
    [10.1038/nature10097] [Scopus]
  • Paterson, J.R., Garcia-Bellido, D.C., Lee, M.S., Brock, G.A., Jago, J.B. and Edgecombe, G.D. (2011). Acute vision in the giant Cambrian predator Anomalocaris and the origin of compound eyes. Nature, 480 pp. 237-240.
    [10.1038/nature10689]
  • King, B., Qiao, T., Lee, M.S., Min, Z. and Long, J.A. (2016). Bayesian Morphological ClockMethods Resurrect Placoderm Monophyly and Reveal Rapid Early Evolution in Jawed Vertebrates. Systematic Biology,
    [10.1093/sysbio/syw107]
  • Lee, M.S. and Ho, S.Y.W. (2016). Molecular Clocks. Current Biology, 26(10) pp. R399-R402.
    [10.1016/j.cub.2016.03.071] [Scopus]
  • Lee, M.S., Sanders, K.L., King, B. and Palci, A. (2016). Diversification rates and phenotypic evolution in venomous snakes (Elapidae) Royal Society Open Science, 3(1) pp. 150277.
    [10.1098/rsos.150277] [Scopus]
  • Worthy, T., Mitri, M., Handley, W.D., Lee, M.S., Anderson, A. and Sand, C. (2016). Osteology supports a stem-Galliform affinity for the giant extinct flightless bird Sylviornis neocaledoniae (Sylviornithidae, Galloanseres). PLoS One, 11(3) pp. Art: e0150871.
    [10.1371/journal.pone.0150871]
  • Bertozzi, T., Lee, M.S. and Donnellan, S. (2016). Stingray diversification across the end-cretaceous extinctions. Memoirs of Museum Victoria, 74 pp. 379-390.
    [Web Link] [Web Link]
  • Paterson, J.R., Garcia-Bellido, D.C., Jago, J.B., Gehling, J.G., Lee, M.S. and Edgecombe, G.D. (2016). The Emu Bay Shale Konservat-Lagerstätte: a view of Cambrian life from East Gondwana. JOURNAL OF THE GEOLOGICAL SOCIETY, 173 pp. 1-11.
    [10.1144/jgs2015-083]
  • Llamas, B., Brotherton, P.M., Mitchell, K.J., Templeton, J.E., Thomson, V.A., Metcalf, J., et al. (2015). Late Pleistocene Australian Marsupial DNA Clarifies the Affinities of Extinct Megafaunal Kangaroos and Wallabies. MOLECULAR BIOLOGY AND EVOLUTION, 32(3) pp. 574-584.
    [10.1093/molbev/msu338]
  • Ukuwela, K.D.B., Lee, M.S., Rasmussen, A.R., de Silva, A., Mumpuni, , Fry, B.G., et al. (2015). Evaluating the drivers of Indo-Pacific biodiversity: speciation and dispersal of sea snakes (Elapidae: Hydrophiinae) Journal of Biogeography, 43 pp. 243-255.
    [Scopus]
  • Garcia-Bellido, D.C., Lee, M.S., Edgecombe, G.D., Jago, J.B., Gehling, J.G. and Paterson, J.R. (2015). A new vetulicolian from Australia and its bearing on the chordate affinities of an enigmatic Cambrian group. BMC Evolutionary Biology, 14(214)
    [10.1186/s12862-014-0214-z]
  • Scanlon, J.D. and Lee, M.S. (2011). The Major Clades of Living Snakes: Morphological Evolution, Molecular Phylogeny, and Divergence Dates. In Robert Aldridge, David M Sever, ed. Reproductive Biology and Phylogeny of Snakes. New Hampshire, UK: Science Publishers, pp. 55-96.
    [10.1201/b10879-4]

Professional and community engagement

MY POPULAR ARTICLES are freely available here:

MEDIA COVERAGE OF RESEARCH BY MYSELF AND COLLABORATORS, some examples:

Expertise for media contact

Subject Titles

  • Biodiversity
  • Palaeontology
  • Zoology

Contact

Add to address book
Phone: +61 8 82077568
Email:
Location: Biological Sciences (128F)
Postal address: GPO Box 2100, Adelaide 5001, South Australia

Further information

South Australian Museum Office and Lab

    • Ph: 08 8207 7568
    • Email: Mike.Lee@samuseum.sa.gov.au
    • Mail: Earth Sciences Section, South Australian Museum, North Terrace, Adelaide 5000

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FLINDERS PALAEONTOLOGY GROUP

I am part of the Flinders Palaeontology Group, one of the best places in Australia to study the deep history of life. This consists of the labs of the following academic staff and research fellows (and their research groups) addressing questions across all vertebrates - from fish to mammals, and the Cambrian to the Anthropocene.

MACO login

inspiring achievement