Research and Education

The own­ers of the Nilpe­na Pas­toral Sta­tion have been instru­men­tal in pro­tect­ing the fos­sil field since its dis­cov­ery, man­ag­ing it as a field lab­o­ra­to­ry by ensur­ing research is con­duct­ed on site and fos­sils are not removed. Retain­ing the fos­sils on site has enabled clos­er exam­i­na­tion of trace fos­sils, reveal­ing impor­tant infor­ma­tion about these ear­ly life­forms. Due to its his­to­ry of sen­si­tive and con­trolled man­age­ment, Nilpe­na remains one of the few undis­turbed Edi­acaran fos­sil sites that exists in the world.

Research con­tin­ues to grow our knowl­edge of how these ancient crea­tures lived. We are only begin­ning to under­stand the Edi­acaran bio­ta, and the research under­tak­en by the South Aus­tralian Muse­um, our local uni­ver­si­ties, inter­na­tion­al uni­ver­si­ties, and the part­ner­ships with oth­er insti­tu­tions the world over, con­tin­ues to pose new ques­tions and present excit­ing dis­cov­er­ies. Even the likes of NASA is invest­ing in research at Nilpe­na for unpar­al­leled insight into how ani­mal life evolves on a planet.

To ensure the fos­sil val­ues are pro­tect­ed and well man­aged for many years to come, an Action Plan for South Australia’s Edi­acaran Fos­sils was devel­oped by the South Aus­tralian Gov­ern­ment. Many of the actions have already been com­plet­ed includ­ing the cre­ation of a state fos­sil emblem – the dis­tinc­tive Sprig­gi­na – named after Reg Sprigg and one of the most sig­nif­i­cant Edi­acaran fos­sils found at Nilpena.

Ensur­ing the next gen­er­a­tions con­tin­ue the ongo­ing research will start with build­ing an aware­ness of fos­sils with school chil­dren. The new expe­ri­ence to be offered at Nilpe­na aims to spark children’s imag­i­na­tion through inter­pre­ta­tion and hands-on activ­i­ties that inspire them to learn and go onto study­ing the likes of palaeon­tol­ogy, geol­o­gy and about our First Nations his­to­ry. Nilpe­na will raise aware­ness and cre­ate oppor­tu­ni­ties for stu­dents to see the fos­sils first­hand through tours that inte­grate Adnya­math­anha cul­ture, geol­o­gy and environment.

The Edi­acara activ­i­ty book is a great resource and fun way for young school chil­dren to learn about fos­sils and the dis­cov­er­ies at Nilpena. 

The Edi­acaran Fos­sils of the Flinders Ranges ebook, pro­duced by the South Aus­tralian Depart­ment for Edu­ca­tion and Child Devel­op­ment, is an excel­lent teach­ing resource for upper pri­ma­ry and high school children.