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.