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Collections & Research

The Eromanga Natural History Museum collections focus in on the upper Murray/Darling and the Lake Eyre/Cooper Basins which are all part of the overlying Eromanga Basin. The fossil collection continues to grow exponentially each year and uniquely represents extensive Australian dinosaur, megafauna, microfauna and plants of a quality and quantity rarely seen in context in a single collection. The modern day comparative research collection is also being developed. Hundreds of specimens of plants, terrestrial invertebrates and other modern day fauna are gradually being processed in the collection.

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Collectively these collections will hold specimens allowing us to preserve and study the diversity and evolution of this region in context over a time span from the age of dinosaurs to the age of man.

The Eromanga Natural History Museum (ENHM) is a collection of international and national significance being developed to meet international museum standards (International Code of Zoological Nomenclature). The Holotype collection will include new Australian dinosaurs and together with other Holotype specimens, represents the most valued component of the collection.

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Digital technology is the cornerstone for this emerging natural history collection, enabling us to achieve cutting-edge research outcomes through CT scanning, LiDah and Photogrammetry. Our high end 3D capable workstation gives us the capability to produce high quality reconstructions for replicas and on-line resources. The dedicated natural history museum collection management system, Vernon is used to digitally catalogue and ultimately make the museum’s collections accessible on-line.

 

Botanical

In 2010 a comprehensive collection of plants from western parts of South West Queensland was collected. The previous years were a recording breaking nine year drought, followed by a record breaking flood and then the wettest year on record was recorded.  It had been 100 years since this sequence of events were recorded in the early 1900s. These conditions produced an unprecedented variety of annual wildflowers and plants. It was a breathtaking show of semi-arid and arid flora not seen since European settlement and an opportunity to record and document these plants.

This collection is developing and is represented by hundreds of specimens which are mostly still pressed in the field presses. A comprehensive alcohol and photographic collection has also been taken of these plant specimens.

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Volunteers are working on the collection, identifying and mounting for long term collection storage and entering the data and photos into the ENHM Vernon Cataloguing CMS.

Botanical Research

The Botanical Collections strength is its ability to have recorded a point in time that represents the most prolific native germination period for 100 years. It records the health of the plant diversity since European settlement and is taken from an area of Australia where limited recording has previously been done.

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Research opportunities on the modern day botanical collection:

  1. Plants were collected during a very rare climatic event which created unique germination conditions and the potential to find in this collection new or rare species.
  2. This collection will also provide valuable reference material for scientists and the locals to measure the health of the plant diversity since European settlement. It provides base line data for future research.

 

Palaeontology

Over 70 palaeontology sites are registered to be worked on in this South West Queensland region, including of one of Australia’s most significant dinosaur, megafauna and microfauna fossil hotspots.

The internationally significant dinosaur sites are producing fossil material completely new to science and of world-class preservation. After eight weeks field work between 2006-2013 at a couple of the known dinosaur sites, tonnes of fossil material has been excavated to process at the Eromanga Natural History Museum. Each year more digs are planned to continue work at these sites and the rest of the dinosaur sites. This fossil material includes many different dinosaurs and several new species. The Eromanga dinosaurs are Australia’s largest dinosaurs and evidence of their behaviour 95-98 million years ago is locked into the surrounding rocks and bones.

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The Nationally significant Eulo megafauna and microfauna sites are found in concentrations yet to matched in Australia. Once again many of these sites are producing world-class preservation and exceptional scientific interpretative value and represent some of the largest marsupial remains ever found in the world.

Palaeontology Research

The collections strengths are its ability to produce new ‘holotypes’ and fossils and ichnofossils from an area of Australia previously thought to be devoid of such evidence. No previous systematic excavations had been carried out until the Outback Gondwana Foundation and now the Eromanga Natural History Museum became active. Late Cretaceous dinosaurs, tracks, marine invertebrates, freshwater vertebrates and plants, Tertiary plants and Pleistocene vertebrates combine to make this very valuable collection of Australian fossil heritage. The collections diversity in age, species and species size is unique to this collection.

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Image supplied Rochelle Lawrence: Microfossil 1mm.

Research opportunities on fossils at the Eromanga Natural History Museum involves three sections:

  1. Fossils and ichnofossils from the late Cretaceous, the period that saw the last of the reign of the dinosaurs, a time when just before they became extinct they grew to titanic sizes never to be seen in the terrestrial animal kingdom again. A rare window into the behaviour of the dinosaurs and the Paleoecology of the late Cretaceous period in one of the newest friendly paleontological frontiers.
  2. Fossils from the Quaternary Pleistocene Arid Zone, the marsupial and reptilian megabeasts that evolved after the dinosaurs died. The megafauna lived alongside the Aboriginals for tens of thousands of years before becoming extinct. Descendants of these extinct species have evolved and still exist today.
  3. Fossils from the Quaternary Pleistocene, the microfauna evolution in the Australian Arid Zone.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you recognise dinosaur fossils’

Fossils are predominantly black coloured and will look different to other rocks in the same area, plus they are heavier than rocks. Often they are broken into irregular fragments and have a porous structure.

Interesting fact: Sometimes if you put your tongue on the rock and it sticks a little bit this can also mean it is a fossil.


 
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