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Age of Fishes Museum’s Canowindra fossil

Sir David Attenborough (right) and Dr Alex Ritchie inspected the fish fossils during a visit to Canowindra in 2013.(Supplied: Cabonne Council).

Canowindra land sale of Age of Fishes fossil discovery site worries palaeontologist, ABC News, 1 September 2020

The scientist who unearthed a rare and significant site of prehistoric fish fossils, once described by Sir David Attenborough as “world-class” specimens, is concerned by the sale of rural property where he suspects thousands more specimens lay buried.

He uncovered thousands of intact fossil imprints of fish species dating to the Devonian period, 360 million years ago.

“When you’ve got thousands of fishes ranging from 20 centimetres long up to three metres long … it’s mind-blowing.”

But he is worried the sale listing of a 101-hectare property, which includes the area where the fossils were discovered, could jeopardise any specimens which remain underground.

“Imagine if it were dinosaurs, what would happen?” the former Australian Museum palaeontologist said.

“Fish are just as important because some of them were close to our ancestors.”

Natural historian Sir David Attenborough described the fossil find as ‘world-class’.(Supplied: Cabonne Council).

‘World-class find’

Natural historian Sir David Attenborough described the unearthed specimens as “world-class” during a visit to the town’s Age of Fishes Museum in 2013.

“It’s not a question of just chipping out a little bit of specimen and putting it in a glass plate,” Sir David told Fairfax Media.

“These are several tonnes in weight, so it is a major job in presenting this extraordinary treasure trove.”

The land where the fossils were found is not protected by state or national heritage listings.

Dr Ritchie said he was concerned future property owners could exploit the remaining buried treasures for commercial purposes.

It is believed the fossils extend for hundreds of metres up the slope of the fields and under the road where they were first discovered.


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