Research project: Sorting and classification of the Lightning Ridge opalised fossil collection


Start date:

Museum investigators

Funded by

  • Australian Museum


Australian dinosaur material is scarce and fragmentary. New South Wales dinosaurs and other terrestrial vertebrates from the Early Cretaceous are known almost exclusively from the Lightning Ridge opal fields in the north central part of the state. Invertebrates and plants have also been preserved, giving us a window into a unique Mesozoic Australian ecosystem. These precious fossils, preserved in opal, were mainly recovered during the opal mining process and the fossils donated to the Australian Museum for study.

The Australian Museum has collected Lightning Ridge material since the first fossils were found nearly 100 years ago. These fossils form the basis of the Australian Museum dinosaur/Mesozoic zoological collection. The process of sorting and classifying fossil material involves identification of mainly isolated, disarticulated and fragmentary remains.

This project will ultimately lead to the description of new species and further investigation into the palaeoenvironment, palaeoecology and biogeography of this exciting fauna.

Anne Musser
Robert Jones , Palaeontology
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