DIG DEEP: An Australian Age of Dinosaurs crew digging near Yarwun.
DIG DEEP: An Australian Age of Dinosaurs crew digging near Yarwun. Contributed

Fossils found in Gladstone will feature in new museum

FOSSILS from a shale oil site near Yarwun will be shown in a new museum at Winton celebrating the time of the dinosaurs.

Australian Age of Dinosaurs founder David Elliot was part of a team digging at the site north of Gladstone last week.

After five days work, Mr Elliot walked away with boxes of turtle fossils dating from 50 million years ago.

Those fossils will be added to the three containers of specimens waiting to be processed in Winton that will form part of the collection for the new museum.

Mr Elliot said the discovery at the shale oil site wasn't news to Australia's scientific community, but essential for his project.

"We really want a good cross-section of samples from across Australia so we can have a museum that represents the country and how it has evolved over 4.5 billion years," Mr Elliot said.

"The fact that we found fossils between 40 and 50 million years old is not a new discovery.

"Museum Victoria was there 12 years ago and they collected beautiful big blocks of crocodiles encased in rock.

"We were hoping to find some crocs but we're happy with the turtle fossils too - it tells the same story of the deposit."

Mr Elliot said the fossils were mostly small bones and turtle plates preserved by mud.

"The deposit covers a huge area which used to be a lake.

"If an animal dies in the middle of a paddock somewhere it's not going to be preserved. But in a water hole, the lake fills up with water again and the silt covers the bones with fine sediment.

"After about 500 years it's under 5m of mud, sealed from light, sun and air."

He said the fossils aren't actually bones as such, but rocks.

"Time turns bones to rocks. The bone is still there but absorbs all the minerals to become rock."

Mr Elliot's team sought special approval to dig at the site which is not open to the public.

Dino deposit:

  • Winton is home to Australia's largest dinosaur deposit.
  • There are 20 tonnes of specimens in Winton waiting to be processed for the new museum.
  • A large dinosaur bone can take hundreds of hours to process using eight to 10 staff.