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Dinosaurs by Design: Up Close and Personal at the Eromanga Natural History Museum

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

It’s every kid’s dream to come face to face with their favourite dinosaurs. But with 365 million years between then and now that’s been impossible. Until today. In fact, a prehistoric pack of dinosaur have risen again, like a zoological zombie tribe ready to stomp through the arid red outback of South West Queensland once more. And thanks to the Eromanga Natural History Museum, you can meet these big bony fellas in person.


Why Eromanga?

Eromanga. Population: 45. The furthest town from the sea in Australia. And according to outbackqueensland.com.au, it is also “heralded by scientists as the most exciting and prolific dinosaur site in Australia.”

In fact, Eromanga is home to the paleontological discovery of Australia’s largest dinosaurs. In terms of the natural history of Australia, it is a discovery of huge significance and one which has had the scientific world buzzing.

Not only have these huge dinosaurs been discovered in Eromanga, but they are being preserved and displayed on the site itself. Evidence of their behaviour 95-98 million years ago is embedded in the surrounding rocks, fossilised and awaiting further discovery.

At Eromanga, you have the unique opportunity to observe a fascinating part of Australian natural history in its own native environment, immersing yourself in our rich cultural history while doing so.

This is important according to the family counsellors at Thinking Families who say that “taking children to museums like the Eromanga Natural History Museum can help to develop imagination, curiousity; and an ability to compare and contrast information. These traits lead to emotionally developed and intelligent young minds and set kids up for future success.”

What is Natural History?

There is no one more suited to answer this question than Sir David Attenborough, one of the world’s most renowned and beloved natural historians.

Speaking to the BBC media centre, Sir David said “It seems to me that the natural world is the greatest source of excitement; the greatest source of visual beauty; the greatest source of intellectual interest. It is the greatest source of so much in life that makes life worth living.”

Natural history, quite simply, is the study of the natural world around us – the animals and the plants that inhabit the earth along with human beings. It is particularly concerned with deriving information from observation of this natural world, rather than scientific experimentation.

Quite often the word “history” implies that it is old; that it has already happened, that the story is finished. But that’s not entirely accurate. It is not finished at all, it is the story of nature and therefore ongoing. Natural history surrounds us, it has done so for millions of years and the study of it helps us understand our place in the world.

Did Somebody Say Dinosaurs?!?

Who doesn’t love dinosaurs? Dinosaurs have always fired our imaginations and loomed large in popular culture, despite the fact that they were wiped out 65 million years ago. Having walked the earth for around 240 million years, dinosaurs became extinct at the end of the Cretaceous period.

Most scientists concur that it was either an extinct level impact such as a huge asteroid, or a massive bout of volcanic activity that caused this extinction.

Incidentally, most mammals, birds, frogs, crocodiles, turtles, starfish and snails survived. Even hardy plants made it through. But sadly, not the dinosaurs. However, it is truly a scientific mystery as to what really happened; we weren’t there, we simply don’t know for sure.

But that brings us nicely back around to why the discovery of dinosaurs at Eromanga and the sight of all that natural history in Queensland is so spectacular.

Does Size Matter?

Yes, indeed it does. Because at Eromanga, they are discovering dozens of both megafauna and microfauna sites, all of them dating back from an estimated 50,000 to 100,000 years.

Experts are finding large numbers of megafauna and microfauna fossils of extinct animals, all preserved in the special clays of the area and more importantly, preserved in exceptional detail.

When a fossilised specimen is discovered that is the first known of its kind anywhere in the world, this specimen is called a “holotype”, and it becomes the name-bearer of the species. Scientists are able to study the unique traits of a species by studying its holotype.

They fill in important gaps in the fossil record. Any holotype is obviously an exciting and rare discovery, and they are making them at Eromanga.

And guess what? You can go and see them for yourself!


Walking With Dinosaurs

Imagine, for a moment, getting up close and personal with Cooper, Australia’s largest dinosaur.

Cooper is a Titanosaur, which at 30 meters long and 6.5 meters high, is one of the world’s largest dinosaurs. He is an impressive megabeast and one of the sights of the natural world you need to experience for yourself.

This is the perfect way to capture the joy of kids coming face to face with giants according to photography experts at Strong Images, who say that “it can be challenging trying to capture your little one’s smile during an arrange shoot. But by having the camera ready for jaw-dropping moments like meeting Cooper, you’ll capture smiles that last a lifetime.”

You can touch a 95 million-year-old dinosaur bone, go fossil-hunting with the Eromanga experts and listen to their in-depth knowledge of all-things-prehistoric. You can immerse yourself in the prehistoric history of outback Queensland, but you will be discovering the modern-day story of this amazing area as well.

But Wait, There’s More…

It doesn’t just end with the gigantic reptiles we call dinosaurs, impressive as they may be. Because at the Natural History Museum, there are also various megafauna to behold.

Megafauna are the animals that evolved after the dinosaurs disappeared. They were very large marsupials, flightless birds and reptiles that once walked this land, and whose descendants still live on in the smaller forms of kangaroos, crocodiles and wombats. Australian megafauna went extinct about 20,000 years ago, but you can still experience it in person, thanks to the amazing discoveries in natural history made at Eromanga.

Author Bio:

Nathan Knox is a freelance writer. He is a university student based in Sydney. A Computer Science student, Nathan is also fond of going to the cinema. When not on his desk, he is often at the cinemas watching his favourite shows.


Frequently Asked Questions

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.


 
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