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FAQs About Fossils

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.


How long does it take to prepare a fossil for scientific research?

Some of the larger dinosaur specimens can take up to two years for a fossil technician to remove the dirt and stone debris from around a bone. Smaller bones can take just a few weeks. Generally the time involved in this process changes according to the size of the fossil and the quality of the preservation.

Fond out more about our research >


What is a Holotype?

A holotype is a valuable original specimen that describes a new species.  It is a term used to describe a specimen that is the first known of its kind anywhere in the world.  A holotype can be any type of fossil, and it serves as the name-bearer of the species.  Even if a better specimen is found, the holotype is not superseded.  These are rare and exciting discoveries, which help fill important gaps in the fossil record. 

Every animal and plant that is scientifically described is represented by a holotype.  If a scientist wishes to study the unique traits of a species, it is usually the holotype specimen they study.  The holotypes are the crown jewels of any museum collection.  These priceless specimens need to be stored and conserved at standards that meet the Code of International Zoological Nomenclature.


What is the difference between megafauna fossils and dinosaur fossils?

Dinosaurs are reptiles that went extinct 64 million years ago. They grew to gigantic sizes.  They lived in a time when Australia was a very different place to what it is today, and part of the ancient landmass called Gondwana. The Eromanga dinosaurs are estimated to be 95-98 million years old and lived during the late Cretaceous.

Megafauna are the group of animals that evolved after the dinosaurs died.  They were very large marsupials, reptiles and flightless birds and went extinct about 20,000 years ago.  Some of their descendants still exist today in much smaller forms such as kangaroos, wombats, komodo dragons and crocodiles.  The Eulo megafauna lived during Pleistocene approximately 50,000 to 100,000 years ago. 


What should I do if a fossil site is discovered?

After looking at the fossils ensure all fragments are left where they were found in the field as this is crucial to discovering more bones in the same area. Do not disturb site but take a GPS reading and photos. If possible mark the site with a star picket and contact the Eromanga Natural History Museum for a scientific analysis.

Look at the ENHM on-line resources ‘How to recognise dinosaur sites in the Cooper Basin’.


Who found the first dinosaur bone in South West Queensland, Australia?

In 2004, a 14 year old boy called Sandy Mackenzie was mustering sheep on his family’s property and he spotted an unusual looking rock.  He stopped and picked it up because it looked different to all the other rocks.  Sandy showed his Dad, who then took it to the Queensland Museum to ask them what it was.  


Will the fossils be sent to a State Museum collection?

The  fossils that are collected by the Eromanga Natural History Museum will be kept in the Eromanga Natural History Museum in the  region they were found so they can be processed, conserved and studied in the context of where they were discovered. This will also bring economic benefits to the local communities.  The Eromanga Natural History Museums' collection procedures and standards meet requirements needed to house and process these very important Australian fossils.


Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between megafauna fossils and dinosaur fossils?

Dinosaurs are reptiles that went extinct 64 million years ago. They grew to gigantic sizes.  They lived in a time when Australia was a very different place to what it is today, and part of the ancient landmass called Gondwana. The Eromanga dinosaurs are estimated to be 95-98 million years old and lived during the late Cretaceous.

Megafauna are the group of animals that evolved after the dinosaurs died.  They were very large marsupials, reptiles and flightless birds and went extinct about 20,000 years ago.  Some of their descendants still exist today in much smaller forms such as kangaroos, wombats, komodo dragons and crocodiles.  The Eulo megafauna lived during Pleistocene approximately 50,000 to 100,000 years ago. 


 
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