Elizabeth Beverly from Blackwood, South Australia, discovered a tooth from an elasmosaur (a long-necked swimming reptile). It turned out to be one of the most perfectly-preserved elasmosaur teeth yet in the Australian Opal Centre’s extensive fossil collection.

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    Dr Phil Bell identifies a new discovery as a piece of opalised dinosaur skull. Lightning Ridge is the only place in NSW that dinosaur skull material has been found and even here, it is exceedingly rare. Ruth Silverton from Umina Beach, NSW shares the excitement.

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    Elizabeth Beverly (South Australia), Jacob McLean (NSW) and Julie de Bijl (Western Australia) mould and cast opalised fossils under the direction of palaeontologist Dr Phil Bell.

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    An underground mine visit is vital to understanding the geology, industrial and social history of fossil discoveries at at Lightning Ridge. Guide Stephen Henley with Louise Tapp, Frank Bridges, Kylie Gutry, John Morgan and other dig particiapnts.

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    Jigsaw puzzle for a happy palaeontologist: Dr Phil Bell from the University of New England, Armidale, piecing together opalised dinosaur bone.

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    Local historian Barbara Moritz shares opal field stories during a sunset supper at the spectacular First Shaft Lookout.

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    Greg Banks and John Morgan searching for opalised fossils on a mullock heap.

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    Some participants managed to find their own piece of opal.

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    While the focus of the Dig was on fossils, participants also enjoyed a rare opportunity to see and handle rough and cut precious opal, brought to the Dig by local opal experts. Here Vicki Bokros shows valuable rough opal specimens to Phil Bell, Keith Robinson-Griffiths and Rex Silcox.

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    Ali Calvey from Grafton in NSW and Arthur Singe from Officer in Victoria, searching for fossils in mine tailings. Ali and Arthur are both regular Dig participants.

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    Frank Bridges from Cowra, NSW, searching for fossils while splitting and trimming claystone blocks.

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    The Lightning Ridge Fossil Dig is a rich experience thanks to the involvement of local residents including opal miner Butch McFadden. Participants since 2014 have been chipping in to buy Butch an Australian Opal Centre Life Membership; in 2017, Butch was presented with his certificate. From left: Eileen Sidell, Kylie Gutry, Keith Robinson-Griffiths, Greg Banks, Ali Calvey, Arthur Singe, Butch McFadden, Rex Silcox, Jenni Brammall, John Morgan, Graham Gipps and Phil Bell.

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GALLERY: Lightning Ridge Fossil Dig

By AG STAFF | December 5, 2017

Exciting discoveries were made at the August 2017 Lightning Ridge Fossil Dig, when 26 AG readers joined the Australian Opal Centre and the AG Society. Findings included opalised pine cones, yabby buttons, fish and turtle bones and tantalising remnants of plesiosaurs and both herbivorous and carnivorous dinosaurs. Bone from two large dinosaurs – including an intriguing piece of skull – are now being studied. Other finds included a particularly well-preserved opalised elasmosaur tooth and a possible mammal tooth. Mammal teeth from the age of dinosaurs are rare in Australia, with every find resulting in new scientific information. To join us next year, click HERE.