Tuesday, April 14, 2009

T.A.B.A. Chapter 14. Fossils In Them Thar Hills!

So sayeth Yosemite Sam, or Pecos Pete, or Dakota Dave, or Neville Nevada... This is going downhill rapidly so I'll just get on with it.

Remember the chapters about the Wonambi Fossil Centre? Well, there is another fossil museum at the Naracoorte Caves.

It is





And it is sooooooo cool!

I'm actually going to do a bit of chatting about each pic, so I'll be posting each one. If you want the flickr page where they all live (and notice you can run a slideshow of them from that page --look at the upper right and you'll see slideshow link) then here it is right here.

We went down to 2 fossil chambers, the first one was so huge that they've set up a display museum in it with chairs even! At the base of the chamber is an active dig that's about 200,000 years old (yes, those are some really old archeologists!).

Here's the view as you enter the chamber through a narrow tunnel. Yes, I know it's out of focus...
fossils in the cave YT093
Please note the fossilised backs of some Pleistocene chairs...

I'm one for noticing non-obvious things. You could say I like to go off the beaten path, metaforikalee speaking of course. This is why I was the only one of our group that even noticed, much less took a picture of, these little fossils in a little crevasse off the side of the musuem.
fossils in the cave YT095

Meet Simosthenurus occidentalis:
fossils in the cave YT096

Obviously, this bloke is dead. It's also extinct. Been that way for about 50,000 years. It's a roo (and probably would have been tasty like all roos are), but it wasn't a grazer; it was a browser. That means it ate leaves instead of grass. Here's a good link to find out more about it. Just go read about cus after all, "Larnin's FUN!"

Here's the active dig in this museum:
fossils in the cave YT103
Notice the fossils in the foreground on display?

Oh, let's just zoom in a bit:
fossils in the cave YT104
Don't worry, we get a lot closer!

Just a really cool shadow above the dig...
fossils in the cave YT106

These are waiting to be cataloged:
fossils in the cave YT108

Same thing but with a flash:
fossils in the cave YT156

Yes, they really do use tiny brushes and dental picks for excavation:
fossils in the cave YT155

Here's the bloke who is causing all the shadows:
fossils in the cave YT110
Thylacoleo carnifex

Or, "Leo" for short. A Marsupial lion that's been extinct as long as Simosthenurus occidentalis. Bugga weighed over 120 kilos --260 pounds. You can read (and LEARN) more about Leo right here. The neatest thing about Leo: semi-opposable thumbs!

We got to go down to some scaffolding over the active dig, with the guide (who happens to have the same name AND nickname as WP... weird, eh?) admonishing the group to make sure either wrist straps or neck straps for cameras ae secured. DON'T TOUCH NOTHIN'!!!!

Have a looksie:
fossils in the cave YT112

Obviously, it's a bit hard to get some depth perception with the flash on, so I did manage to get a shot sans flash that shows a lot more detail.

Would you like to see it?

Of course you would:
fossils in the cave YT115

Here's the platform we were on. Obviously we couldn't go past the gates since we aren't researchers, sigh.
fossils in the cave YT123

We then went down through a narrow passage to the next fossil chamber, and climbed up a very steep, rickety, ladder overlooking the other active dig in the area. This dig was about 10 feet below the little outcropping we were on. I tried my best to get some good shots, but the lighting conditions were just a wee bit difficult.

fossils in the cave YT136
Yes, that's a portable stereo to the left of the tripod...

For those of you diggers, you can tell this dig is still in it's infancy
fossils in the cave YT137

Alrighty, up next will be WP's shots of the two fossil chambers.

OT: Just an update on the brewing, the latest batch of 60 lagers is ready for consumption, and I'll be starting a batch of ginger beer Saturday.

And my new cheese making supplies arrived! First up will be feta and wensleydale!