Original story by Hailey Renault and Bridget Judd, ABC Rural
An ancient fossil, believed to be more than 100 million years old, has been uncovered on a cattle property in Queensland’s north west.
The two-metre fossilised fish, known as Richmondichthys sweeti, was discovered by two Victorian tourists, at the bottom of a dry creek bed on Marathon Station, 50 kilometres west of Richmond.
Palaeontologist Paul Stumkat says a build up of calcium carbonate around the relic has doubled as a protective barrier, sparking a new wave of research into the species.
“Finding a specimen in the bottom of a river channel that hasn’t been entirely eroded away is very lucky”, he said.
“That means that this specimen has its tail almost complete, and we have a beautiful line of vertebrae which are covered by these huge armoured scales; they look like huge fingernails.
“So we’re really interested in seeing what other features have been preserved, so that the information can be used for scientific research and so forth.”
Contrary to popular opinion, Mr Stumkat says the arid conditions of north west Queensland offer a number of prime locations for fossil finding.
“Queensland, for 128 million years, had a large inland sea, which at its various stages, divided the continent in half; so you can imagine what the remnants of that giant inland sea are,” he said.
“So we find all these amazing marine fossils in this outback environment today.
“We know for a fact that Marathon has produced some of the best specimens ever found in Australia and possibly the world of Australian vertebrate fossils and invertebrate fossils, so the possibility of finding more materials is very high.”