Australia: The Land Where Time Began

A biography of the Australian continent 

Lake Palankarinna Fossil reserve, Lake Eyre Basin of South Australia

The Etadunna formation from the Late Oligocene contained Ceratodus (Lungfish), as well as other fish, freshwater Dolphins, Crocodiles, turtles, Flamingos, Platypus, Possums, Koalas, cuscuslike marsupials, Diprotodontids and early species of Kangaroos. The region is now as dry as any desert in Australia but in the Late Oligocene had a cool-temperate climate, as evidenced by the faunal assemblage, with lakes, rivers and forests.

An ektopodontid possum found at this site was Chunia illuminata, about 40 cm long, that it believed to have possibly specialised in seed-eating. Ektopodontids were a distinctive group of possums found in Cainozoic deposits. Ektopodontids had short faces with large forward-facing eyes, and complex teeth that were the most unusual of the marsupials. Chunia was the most primitive of the ektopodontids, with molars very similar to those of phalangeroid possums and simpler than any other known ektopodontid.

The remains of insectivorous bats from the Late Oligocene have been found in the Ditjimanka local fauna, in the oldest layers of the deposit.

The Lake Palankarrina Fauna in the Mampuwordu Samds, is from the Early Pliocene, about 4 Ma. Fossils from this fauna include fish, crocodiles, dromornithids and emus. There is also a bandicoot from the same order as the bilby that is presently found in the arid areas of central Australia.


  • Metaceratodus bonei, Late Oligocene-Middle Miocene
  • Neoceratodus sp., Late Oligocene-Middle Miocene
  • N. sp., Miocene
  • Ariidae, Miocene
  • Ariidae, Middle Miocene to Middle Pliocene
  • Percichthyidae, Miocene
  • Percichthyidae, Middle Miocene to Middle Pliocene
  • teleosts, Pleistocene

Sources & Further reading

  1. Mary E White, After the Greening, The Browning of Australia, Kangaroo Press, 1994
  2. Patricia Vickers-Rich, Thomas Hewitt Rich, Wildlife of Gondwana, Reed Australia, 1993


Last Updated 05/07/2009 


Journey Back Through Time
Experience Australia
Aboriginal Australia
National Parks
Photo Galleries
Site Map
                                                                                           Author: M.H.Monroe  Email:     Sources & Further reading