Archaeologists make their bones in Outback paddock
FOSSILS ROCK SCIENCE TEAMS
A SINGLE paddock on a Julia Creek property yielded two landmark archaeological finds of 100 million- year- old fossilised fish within weeks of each other.
The discoveries were made by palaeontologists from Richmond’s Kronosaurus Korner museum and RMIT University students invited out to Proa Redclaw Farm fossils.
The first find in late July was a fossil of a fish called cooyoo, with the find revealing its teeth were bigger than previously thought.
A second search last week unearthed the skeletons of more than 20 miniature fish inside a clam shell.
Curator of Kronosaurus Korner Dr Timothy Holland said both finds were deeply significant, with it possible that the small fish could even be a new species.
“It’s two very exciting finds
for in an area probably the size of a football field,” he said.
“Both times we were only out there for about an hour.”
Dr Holland was turning over pieces of mudstone searching for bone when he found an eye socket and jaw of cooyoo.
He said the discovery had unlocked new knowledge about the giant prehistoric fish, which was more metres long.
“It was like an ancient jigsaw puzzle,” he said.
The second find was made by RMIT University tutor Paul Ter and has been hailed as the best preserved example of smaller fish from Australia’s ancient inland sea.
Dr Holland said the entire region was continuing to yield
three important palaeontological finds, with a council worker also picking up a cooyoo skull in the past week while spraying cactus plants.
“We’ve had people find fossils in the schoolyard before when they were digging out rose beds,” he said.
Property owner Duncan Fysh is no stranger to archaeologists taking an interest in his property, with visits steadily increasing since he found an ichthyosaur while out on a motorbike a decade ago.
“They haven’t even scratched the surface,” he said.
“The reason they’re finding them now is because of the drought, there’s no grass.
“On lots of areas of the place almost every rock has a fossil on it.
STONE STORY: The jaws of the cooyoo ( left) and the some of the small fish found inside a clam shell.