Museum appeals to Springfield developers to find fossils

TURTLES, fish, insects and rainforest flora from 50 million years ago were uncovered at Augustine Heights in 1900, and Queensland Museum scientists say there could be more to find.

Palaeontologists and geologists have appealed to developers to work with them to make sure historically significant specimens were not destroyed.

Head of Geosciences in the Biodiversity and Geosciences Program at the Queensland Museum (QM), Dr Andrew Rozefelds, said the site, referred to only as Jones Rd, was one of the top 10 fossil sites in the state.

He said the details of its exact location were deliberately kept vague as they were on private property and a reserve site.

"Other sites have been decimated by private collectors in the past," he said.

About 40 significant, although incomplete, specimens of fish and turtles were uncovered at the site.

Some fish were up to a meter long.

"We know the area had quite an extensive lake and we know that it was surrounded by a rainforest because of the kind of plants we are finding in the deposit," Dr Rozefelds said.

"At the time the site was found it was the first major site of its type."

Dr Rozefelds said new technology meant any new fossils would be even more valuable to the museum and its ­research.

"Historically, to uncover a fossil you would have to split rock and see if there was a bit of fish inside, which often meant breaking up whatever was in there" he said.

"With new technology like CT scanning, we can now potentially scan these rocks and then reconstruct the fish in full."

The museum's renewed interest in the collection was also largely due to advances in data collection.

"Museums have acquired the collection over hundreds of years, but we've only had an effective database in the last 10 years," Dr Rozefelds said.

He said he looked forward to a "positive engagement" with Greater Springfield ­developers.

"If they find something interesting, what we ask them to do is move it out of their way to continue their work," he said.

"We will work with any organisation but won't get in their way."

The Queensland Museum is now proceeding to fully curate the collections.

It will work on a long-term project to complete an audit of the Jones Road collection including re-examining the entire collection, updating records and establishing geo-reference data and identifications were correct.

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