Fossil hunters make unexpected discovery
THEY are relics from a time when Australia was a land of erupting volcanoes and rift valleys.
Immortalised by a quirk of fate, tiny fossils collected from a site between Gladstone and Bundaberg last week were on display at the World Science Festival, Gladstone on the weekend.
Researcher Dr Anita Milroy, CQUniversity lecturer Dr Andrew Hammond and Dr Andrew Rozefelds, head of sciences at the Queensland Museum, uncovered the fossils of plants and insects, believed to be about 45 million years old, on private land near Lowmead.
Dr Milroy said she was surprised to find what she thought was a horsetail fossil from 45 million years ago.
A horsetail is a type of plant with joints like bamboo, previously thought to have gone extinct in Australia about 95 million years ago.
"It's important to realise, science is a story that changes with each new discovery," Dr Milroy said.
"We're pretty excited about (finding the horsetail)."
Dr Rozefelds said "maybe they are turning up here, because nobody has looked here before".
A member of the public tipped off the Queensland Museum to the presence of fossils at the Lowmead site.
"In the basins is where we find the fossils and there's lots of fossil sites potentially around this area, nobody's actually looked," Dr Rozefelds said.
"We'd like to do more fieldwork, we think there's a lot of potential at this particular site to do more collecting. Ideally we'd like to get a backhoe, to get into it easily.
"We are keen to look at other sites, but even just this one site we've got insects, insect/plant interactions, evidence of a range of different leaves ... "
Dr Rozefelds said the sites around Gladstone were not likely to yield dinosaur bones due to the age of the sediments.
"If you're going to find a dinosaur, you're going to find them next to Mount Morgan, they have found dinosaur tracks there, and plesiosaur bones," he said.