Fossil Hunting Down Under
Local Fossil Hunters Get the Chance to Work with Professionals
On Sunday 22nd February amateur fossil hunters will get the chance to visit one of the state of Victoria’s most important fossil sites and get advice from leading palaeontologists. Museum Victoria is holding a special event at the historic Beaumaris Bay fossil site. The sandstone cliffs preserve evidence of marine fauna from Australia’s prehistoric past. Many types of shark teeth have been discovered along with the fossilised bones of a number of marine vertebrates.
The day will involve talks from professional fossil hunters Dr Erich Fitzgerald (Museum Victoria), Professor Tim Flannery and Professor John Buckeridge of RMIT University (Melbourne). Local amateur fossil hunters will also have the chance to have their finds identified by these experts.
Fossil Hunting Down Under
Commenting on the special, interactive day dedicated to fossil collecting, Dr Erich Fitzgerald (Senior Curator of Vertebrate Palaeontology, Museum Victoria) stated:
“There is simply no better place to find fossils in Melbourne than Beaumaris. They have helped us paint a rich portrait of what Victoria was like millions of years ago. The abundance of fossils of large marine animals, especially sharks and whales, suggests that between 6 and 5 million years ago the coastal waters of Victoria were far richer in nutrients than they are today.”
But fossil hunting is not just for professional scientists, as most professional scientists are happy to admit. Fossils are being eroded out of the sandstone cliffs all the time and if it was not for the dedicated community of local fossil hunters, many potentially significant finds could be severely abraided by wave action or lost all together before a professional palaeontologist got the chance to explore the area.
Dr Fitzgerald Leading the Fossil Hunting Efforts
Picture credit: Museum Victoria / Photographer: Jon Augier
Discovering New Fossils
Dr Fitzgerald added:
“In Museum Victoria’s collection there are thousands of stunning fossils from Beaumaris, many collected by enthusiastic members of the public with a keen interest in palaeontology. The public can provide an extremely valuable insight from their fossil discoveries, which would potentially not have been uncovered otherwise.”
Back in 2012, Everything Dinosaur reported on the discovery of a fossilised leg bone found in the Beaumaris Bay area that was identified as belonging to a new genus of “toothed” marine bird.
To read more about this discovery: Giant “Toothed” Birds Once Soared over Southern Australia.
With such a huge country to explore, Everything Dinosaur has predicted on numerous occasions that this continent will provide palaeontologists with a number of new fossil discoveries, even new types of dinosaur. Members of the public who participate in sensible, careful fossil hunting and who are sensitive to the environment and wish to work within the fossil hunting code can make a huge contribution to the Earth sciences.
Everything Dinosaur acknowledges the support of Museum Victoria in the preparation of this article.