Palaeontological uniqueness & importance
550 million years in the making, the fossils of Nilpena are the world’s greatest record of the advent and evolution of early animal life on our planet. These fossils are of immense scientific value and must be protected.
First discovered by renowned geologist Reg Sprigg in 1946, the Nilpena fossils have been researched for a number of years by leading scientific organisations, including the University of California Riverside and the South Australian Museum.
The Nilpena fossil beds are among the most important sites in the world for the study of the Ediacaran Period.
IN THEIR WORDS:
ANDY THOMAS, ASTRONAUT
Andy joined the NASA Astronaut Corps in 1992, taking his first flight into space on a science mission aboard the space shuttle Endeavour in 1996. Two years later he undertook a 20-week mission as a cosmonaut on the Mir space station. His 2001 mission to the International Space Station included a six-hour spacewalk. Andy’s fourth space flight, to the space station, was on space shuttle Discovery in 2005.
THE UNIQUE NILPENA FOSSIL BEDS
Nilpena Station lies 600km inland and north of Adelaide west of the Flinders Ranges. Because of its international significance as a fossil research site, Nilpena has been included on the National Heritage List.
For more than 20 years, palaeontologists have worked meticulously excavating 40 fossiliferous beds. No such excavation has been done elsewhere. Each one of these beds preserves a snapshot of what was once the seafloor and the organisms living on it.
Nilpena hosts an extraordinary diversity of organisms in abundance on its fossil beds, including evidence of the first animals on earth.
IN THEIR WORDS:
RICHARD FORTEY, WRITER & BROADCASTER
Internationally-recognised research scientist and leading presenter of both life and Earth’s interactive history, Richard is a world leading authority on trilobites, the ancient marine fossil.
He has contributed to the understanding of trilobite life habits, evolutionary relationships, and their role as indicators of ancient world geography in more than 200 publications, celebrating an appreciation of the history of nature and its role in our future.
TO UNEARTH AND PROTECT:
WHAT THIS MEANS FOR SCIENCE
Reg Sprigg’s discovery of fossil imprints in rocks around the old Ediacara minefield in the western Flinders Ranges in 1946, while exploring for minerals, was the first time fossilised remains of an entire community of this age of creatures had been found anywhere in the world.
By preserving the site and allowing researchers to study the fossilised beds, palaeontologists can better understand how the early forms of life evolved. This diverse collection of ancient fossilised organisms represents a significant snapshot of the earth’s geological heritage.
IN THEIR WORDS:
THE HON STEVEN MARSHALL MP, (FORMER PREMIER OF SOUTH AUSTRALIA)
“These fossils are of international significance and they’re right here in South Australia. Now, together with the Flinders Ranges Ediacara Foundation, the State Government and the traditional owners, we’re going to be able to preserve these fossils, and most importantly, share them.”
VISITING NILPENA STATION’S Ediacara FOSSIL BEDS
We invite you to visit and join us on this journey of conservation and education, as world-leading researchers continue to explore the ancient sea floor that lies within the Ediacara Hills, and as we develop the programs to make these discoveries accessible for generations to come.
Guided access only from 2022
Blacksmith’s Shop open in early 2022
South Australia’s newest National Park
Two-wheel drive accessible
School groups welcome from the middle of 2022
Containing more than 40 fossil beds
Marking the advent of complex animal life on the planet
Part of the Flinders Ranges World Heritage bid
FROM THE CHAIR:
MARY LOU SIMPSON OAM
Founded in 2018 to urgently protect the world’s single greatest fossil record of first animal life, the Foundation achieves its purpose through in situ conservation, and supporting education and tourism, making the fossils and their significance accessible for all.
We are working with government and a range of partners to create a long-term asset for the Flinders Ranges, and to support the protection of this fossil heritage in perpetuity.
The Foundation is embarking on an ambitious preservation and interpretation program at Nilpena. We hope you will be inspired to contribute to creating a new legacy for Australia.
“Isn’t it extraordinary to think that this whole area used to be a shallow protected ocean not unlike the Spencer Gulf today.”Ian HughesIan Hughes - Passionate Supporter
“The site is awesome. It’s amazing to see life, millions of years old, in perfect fossilised condition”Students Danby and ElliotStudents Danby and Elliot - Passionate Supporters
“It is difficult to comprehend that long before livestock roamed Nilpena, this marginal country was once underwater and home to array of ancient creatures marking the dawn of animal life.”Ross FargherRoss Fargher - Rancher & landowner of Nilpena cattle station
WHY YOUR SUPPORT IS IMPORTANT
Your support and contribution will be critical in protecting this globally significant site in perpetuity – not just for South Australia or Australia but for everyone. By supporting the Flinders Ranges Ediacara Foundation, you’ll be helping to create an everlasting legacy, preserving one of the most significant pieces of the history of life on earth for now and for future generations.
Since its launch in March 2019, the Foundation has raised significant funds to allow for the State Government purchase of the land holding the fossil beds, to assist with the protection of the fossils and to support the transformation of the historic Blacksmith’s Shop into an immersive Ediacaran interpretive centre.
The next critical step is to work closely with the South Australian State Government to ensure the effective preservation and interpretation of the site and the fossils it contains. To support this ongoing vision for the future of the Nilpena site, we are seeking funding through personal donations, bequests and corporate contributions.