During the Cenozoic Era, when Australia broke free of Antarctica and drifted north, the southern coasts were flooded by the ocean.
Shelly sandstone formations of the Murray, St Vincent and the Nullarbor basins abound with marine shelly fossils, and less commonly, the fossil bones of early whales. Non-marine sediments of the Lake Eyre Basin in the north of the state contain diverse vertebrate faunas of Tertiary age, including lungfish, crocodiles and strange marsupials. Current research by our palaeontologists and Flinders University is focusing on the diverse marsupial and reptilian vertebrate fossil faunas from the Nullarbor Plain and World Heritage Naracoorte Caves National Park and alluvial sediments around South Australia. These projects hope to find the reasons for extinction of much of our ancient megafauna.
Personnel involved include Neville Pledge (Honorary Research Associate, South Australian Museum), Rod Wells (Flinders University), Gavin Prideaux (Flinders University), Trevor Worthy (Flinders University).