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The Future Of Victoria’s State Fossil Emblem Lies In Your Hands

Nicole de Souza Nicole de Souza - Staff Writer

The Future Of Victoria’s State Fossil Emblem Lies In Your Hands

The time has come to choose from eight fascinating candidates.

Victoria has many state emblems. Our state animal is the nimble Leadbeater’s possum. The endangered helmeted honeyeater is our state bird. And our state marine animal is the weedy seadragon. We even have a state mineral (gold) and a floral emblem (the common heath). But, what about fossils? Museums Victoria is inviting the public to vote for a state fossil emblem. There are eight candidates to choose from. All of these candidates can be found in the museum, and were discovered around many locations in Victoria.

Fossil candidates for the state emblem

State emblems are a great way to celebrate the unique natural heritage found in our corner of the world. Victoria’s geological history stretches back over 600 million years. Fascinating fossils have been found in our state that paint a vivid picture of our geological history and capture that moment in time on Earth.  Other states, like New South Wales and South Australia, already have state fossils. And it is high time that Victoria has one too.

Museums Victoria chose eight candidates for our perusal. These fossils represent a distinct organism, are best claimed by Victoria, are significant to science and excite the public’s interest.

Over the next few weeks, Museums Victoria will present information about each candidate so that we can vote for the best fossil. The voting period closes at 5pm on Monday October 4.

Here are the nominees.

1. Isograptus victoriae

This V-shaped animal colony lived about 470 million years ago. It’s only a few centimetres long. But, it’s the remains of many marine animals called graptolites. They had tiny feelers so they they could trap food by floating in the water current. It was found in Castlemaine on Dja Dja Wurrung Country.

2. Baragwanathia

This giant plant lived around 400 million years ago. It was one of the first plants to adapt to living outside of water. After it was discovered, it was considered the world’s oldest land plant! This fossil was found in Yea on Taungurung Country.

3. Bishops whitmorei

This tiny mammal thrived in the forests of Gondwana, back when our continent was near the South Pole 130 million years ago. It lived among the dinosaurs and ate little insects. This fossil is unique to Victoria and was found in Inverloch on Boonwurrung Country.

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4. Koolasuchus cleelandi

This amphibian also lived among the dinosaurs, back in the Cretaceous Period around 125 million years ago. It’s about the size of a car, with fangs and tusks. Picture it at the bottom of a river, waiting to eat turtles and fish. It was found in San Remo on Boonwurrung Country.

5. Janjucetus hunderi

This small whale is the evolutionary link between ancient whales and modern ones, like blue whales and humpback whales. It lived around 25 million years ago. It had fearsome teeth that it used to hunt large fish. A teenage boy discovered it while surfing at Jan Juc on Wathaurong/WaddaWurrung Country.

6. Pelagornis

This sea bird had a six metre wingspan – twice the size of an albatross! It’s beak was over 30 cm long and it captured prey like fish or squid. This fossil is about 5 million years old. It was found near Beaumaris on Boonwurrung Country.

7. Palorchestes azael

This gigantic marsupial was heavier than a buffalo! It’s a mysterious creature from the Ice Age, with an extreme anatomy unlike anything seen before or since. It lived from 2 million years ago to 40 thousand years ago. It was found in the caves of Buchan on Gunaikurnai Country.

8. Leaellynasaura

This small dinosaur is about as tall as a wallaby. However, its tail is about three times the length of its body. It lived about 110 million years ago and ate soft plants, like ferns. It was found at the bottom of Dinosaur Cove near Cape Otway, on Eastern Maar Country.

Which fossil will you choose for our state fossil emblem?

To learn more about the fossils, click here.

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