Palaeontology is the study of ancient life from its fossil record in rocks and the genomic record of living organisms.

Research on fossils at the South Australian Museum focuses on fossils of organisms spanning more than 600 million years of Earth's history, and subfossils of the Holocene Epoch.

Spriggina, South Australian State Fossil Emble

Ediacara Biota research

Ediacara fossils are unique as the oldest large and complex organisms on Earth, preserved as impressions in sandstone.

One of the oldest known and best preserved arthropod fossil eyes from the Early Cambrian (515 million year old) Emu Bay Biota of Kangaroo Island

Cambrian fossil research

The Cambrian Period (541–485 million years ago or ‘Ma’) represents a crucial phase in the history of the Earth, as it brought the sudden appearance of many animal groups showing unprecedented anatomies and behaviour.

A range of trees from Dr Mike Lee's phylogeny papers

Molecular clock research

The genetic differences between living animals can be used to infer relationships between groups, as well as estimate timing of evolutionary divergence, using “molecular clock” approaches.

Opalised ichthyosaur fossil spine

Mesozoic Era fossil research

The great inland seas that covered up to one half of Australia around 110 million years ago preserved evidence of marine life at the time of the dinosaurs.

diprotodon or giant wombat skeleton from Lake Calabonna

Cenzoic Era fossil research

During the Cenozoic Era, when Australia broke free of Antarctica and drifted north, the southern coasts were flooded by the ocean.


Redlichia rex, the largest trilobite from the Early Cambrian Emu Bay Biota of Kangaroo Island.

Emucaris fava, a newly discovered arthropod preserving its appendages. Early Cambrian, Emu Bay Biota of Kangaroo Island.

Coming up next


Up next:
Aboriginal Heritage Project