KI Keisha digs her fossil experience

High school student Keisha Hadland recently swapped life on Kangaroo Island for excavating the fossils of extinct giant kangaroos.

The 17-year-old recipient of this year’s James Moore Memorial Prize joined the Flinders University Palaeontology Society field trip and site excavation at Bone Gulch, near the Murray River in western NSW.

The fossils at this location are around a million years old.

During the week-long field trip in September, Keisha was presented with the trophy for her prize by last year’s winner of the James Moore Memorial Prize and current Flinders University Bachelor of Science student, Teagan Cross, who is enrolled in a Vertebrate Palaeontology major.

In addition to the field trip, the prize also gives Keisha the opportunity to help curate fossils collected in the Flinders Palaeontology Laboratory.

She is currently completing year 12 at Kangaroo Island Community Education, and would like to study at Flinders University next year.

“I have a great interest in evolution,” Keisha says. “In order to improve our future, we need to educate ourselves about our past,” she says.

“I’ve often thought that being the first person to uncover fossils that have not been seen for thousands to millions of years would be exciting, and winning the James Moore Memorial Prize gave me the opportunity to experience the real thing.”

Keisha and Tegan follow in the footsteps of the former Flinders student James Moore, who took his first Flinders palaeontology field trips to the Naracoorte Caves in 2007 to sort bones and assist in digs – including Margaret River, WA in 2008 – while still at high school in Whyalla.

James loved the mystery and excitement of fossil hunting and was a long-time student and technical officer in the Flinders Palaeontology Laboratory until his life was cut short in a fatal car crash on the Eyre Peninsula in December 2014. The James Moore Memorial Fund was established in 2015 to honour his memory.

“The family is pleased to give other young rural South Australians the chance to pursue their dreams,” says his sister Dr Lesley Moore, who encourages other donations to the memorial fund (see link below).

High school students will be able to apply for the 2018 James Moore Memorial Prize early next year.

For more information visit the webpage.


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