Newcastle man's fossil find

02 April 2003

For Darren Dreier from Medowie, 30km north of Newcastle, it was just another day working in his garden. He was preparing the soil for some new turf when he stumbled upon a collection of Late Permian fossils more than 250 million years old.

"There was something unusual about these rocks, they were quite heavy for their size and they had leaf-like patterns on the surface".

Excited with his find and anxious to know more about the rocks, Darren contacted Geoscience Australia in Canberra, who organized for his find to be verified. As a result Mrs Noreen Morris, a fossil plant expert and her husband, Mr Bill Morris, a retired geologist, who live just 5 minutes away from Darren, paid him a visit.

Bill Morris confirmed that Darren's rocks were Late Permian plant fossils of around 260m to 270 million years old.

"People may be surprised to know that there are many fossils of this type in and around Newcastle" explained Bill.

Darren was delighted with his find and has been inspired to continue looking for more.

"Who knows what might be just below the surface" he says "I'm hooked on geology now and so it almost seems wrong to put grass over it" he said.

Dr John Laurie, a senior palaeontologist at Geoscience Australia, confirms "All those millions of years ago, the Newcastle area was part of a large basin occasionally occupied by coal swamps where plants such as the "seed fern" Glossopteris flourished. These plants form part of what is called the Gondwana or Glossopteris flora and are common around the Newcastle area. They are also found in other parts of Australia, South Africa, India, South America and Antarctica and provide evidence that all these continents were once part of the supercontinent Gondwana".

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