Australia’s Newest National Park Protects Ancient Fossils

By | June 24th, 2021|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Geology, Main Page, Palaeontological articles|0 Comments

In January 2020, Everything Dinosaur reported that a part of Flinders Range in South Australia that contains a unique record of Ediacaran life had gained official protection. This area has now become a national park helping to ensure the long-term future of one of the most important fossil sites in the world recording evidence of life before the Cambrian.

The Nilpena fossil fields (South Australia).
The Nilpena fossil fields preserve examples of Precambrian biota. This area has been designated a national park and therefore receives greater protection under Australian law. Picture credit: Jason Irving.

Additional Protection for an Important Fossil Site

The newly formed Nilpena Ediacara National Park will replace the existing Ediacara National Conservation Park and adds around 60,000 hectares of extra land to the protection project, that is bigger than the area of the Isle of Man in the Irish Sea.

The site preserves the fossilised remains of an ancient marine biota from the Ediacaran geological period. Since this site was first discovered in 1946, around 40 highly fossiliferous beds have been identified preserving in exquisite detail a variety of soft-bodied lifeforms. These marine organisms represent some of the first, large complex animals to evolve and document the evolution of locomotion and sexual reproduction.

Ediacaran marine life.
Life in the Ediacaran. The Nilpena site in Southern Australia provides a fossil record of the marine biota that thrived in a shallow sea at the end of the Ediacaran geological period around 550 million years ago. Picture credit: John Sibbick.

South Australia’s Minister for the Environment and Water, David Speirs, stated that the new national park is a significant step on the road to getting the Flinders Ranges UNESCO World Heritage status.

The Minister commented:

“The fossil site at Nilpena, arguably the richest and most intact fossil site in the world, is an internationally significant palaeontological and geological research site.”

To read Everything Dinosaur’s article from January 2020, which outlined the change in status of this very important Lagerstätte: Ediacaran Fossil Site in Australia Gains Protection.