Palaeontology Week unearths new fossil hunters

Dr Gavin Prideaux excavating the skull of an extinct kangaroo, Thylacoleo Caves, Nullarbor Plain, WA.
Dr Gavin Prideaux excavating the skull of an extinct kangaroo, Thylacoleo Caves, Nullarbor Plain, WA.

Some of the State’s foremost fossil experts will be pushed to their limits by some very knowledgeable kids during the SA Museum’s Palaeontology Week, which runs from March 24 to April 1.

The Flinders University Palaeontology Society will be running a quiz show aimed at 12 to 17-year olds on March 30 as part of Palaeontology Week’s program of exhibitions, displays, presentations and other events.

Sam Arman, a Flinders postgraduate and organiser of the Stirton Factor – named after an influential American palaeontologist and using a format that borrows from the ABC’s Einstein Factor – said the guest academics will be tested on their wider knowledge of palaeontology by a brains trust of young enthusiasts.

Flinders palaeontologist Dr Gavin Prideaux said that the event, now in its tenth year, helps to fill an important gap.

“Almost every five to six-year old loves dinosaurs and knows a bit about fossils, but if that early interest in palaeontology persists there’s not really anywhere for older school students to go,” Dr Prideaux said.

“It’s an important week – tens of thousands of people go through the Museum’s doors, and it’s really an opportunity to showcase what palaeontology is about, and a good opportunity for us to talk about our research to school groups and other interested people.”

As part of the regional program, Dr Prideaux will be visiting Naracoorte on March 25 to assist in presenting an open night at the Naracoorte Caves complex, incorporating a tour of the Caves, the on-site laboratory and the Wonambi Fossil Centre, with its reconstructions of the fossil fauna.

On the following day, Dr Prideaux will talk to local high school students about the Caves, which, he says, are South Australia’s only World Heritage Site and constitute a remarkable repository of historical animal life and responses to climate change.

Flinders University is a sponsor of Palaeontology Week.

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