Ediacara Conservation Park to be expanded

By Australian Geographic 29 March 2019
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Alien-like impressions of animals preserved in South Australia half a billion years ago will be given further protections by the State Government.

Nilpena Station, located on the western edge of the Flinders Ranges, contains 500 million-year-old Ediacaran fossils, and now, the South Australian Government has struck a deal to protect them.

The perhaps 50 species recorded at Nilpena Station are some of Earth’s earliest examples of animal life, and are of great interest to NASA as it prepares to recognise unfamiliar alien life on far-off worlds.

Around 60,000 hectares of Nilpena Station will be added to the already established and protected Ediacara Conservation Park.

“They [Flinders Ranges Ediacara Foundation] show how we can work with philanthropy in creating and managing a park, and bringing its wonders to visitors, schoolchildren and our community,” said Premier Steven Marshall of the decision.

Additionally, the Premier has agreed to establish the Flinders Ranges Ediacara Foundation for the future preservation and promotion of the park.

Many Australians are unaware of having such a palaeontological treasure and how globally significant these fossils are. They are so important that in 2004 they were used to define a new geological period, for the first time in 120 years.

The Ediacaran Period spans the 93 million years from 635 to 542 mya, following a massive global glaciation dubbed Snowball Earth, and shortly before the so-called Cambrian Explosion when many animal types we know today first appear in the fossil record.  

You can read more about Ediacaran fossils in Issue 149 of Australian Geographic.