Long before dinosaurs or humans roamed the earth, there was another form of life – the Ediacara biota – the mother of all living animals. In a world that resembled more of an alien habitat, they roamed the shallow seas of Flinders Ranges in a period 550 million years ago. Let’s meet some of them
Creeping, gliding gracefully like a slow stingray, its rounded body stretches out, expanding and contacting as it moves across the sea floor, absorbing food through its body. Rugged in character and leathery in exterior, it is somewhat of the tough guy of the Ediacara world growing up to a metre across
Say hello to South Australia’s fossil emblem. A wriggly little fellow that looks pretty cool. Some say it has a definite head, might even have eyes and a mouth. Is this a possible forebear to hardshell insects or crabs? And is it true that Spriggina might have developed into a predator?
Think Attenborities, think Sir David Attenborough. Well, they were named after him. Grape-size, possibly translucent, graceful little creatures bobbing up and down and going with the flow like an ancient jellyfish while observing the wonderful world around them.
Move over Aphrodite, the goddess of love, lust, beauty, passion and procreation -Meet Funisia, who invented it all. That’s right, the living creature that invented sex, flirting, swaying, seducing and releasing sperm and eggs into the water column in a way coral similarly does today. Such passion all those hundreds of millions of years ago in the first record of sexual reproduction on earth.
Poor Tri seemed a little confused. With most Ediacara having bi-radial symmetry, Tri is tri-radial which means it looks a little different with a body plan like none other. Maybe that’s why Tri was shy and spent most of the time way down on the bottom of seabed.
Don’t call her a plant, she’s an animal. Anchoring herself to sediment through a holdfast, she sways in the current and reaches up a metre high. Living in the deeper parts, not only funky but a prominent character in this most far-ancient world
Now for something really disgusting. Think algae, think goo, think slime. Think about putting your feet into the foulest ocean floor. Well, it can’t be too bad because it’s the blob that sustained life, the ultimate food source – the creeping, gooey, glug that was the microbial mat that fed life on earth.
Want to meet the gang?
Ediacaran fossils for the basis of a new tourism experience in the newly opened Nilpena Ediacara National Park, located in the Northern Flinders Rangers, approximately 40km from Parachilna.
To ensure the preservation of this scientific and culturally significant area, entry to Nilpena Ediacara National Park is by guided tour only. Bookings cannot be made at the entrance and must be organised online prior to arrival.
For further details or to book visit: Nilpena… - National Parks and Wildlife Service South Australia