22 TRACKS BELOW THE TIDE
46 YABBIES OF YORE
56 HAILSTONES OF GLASS
70 LOST SERENGETI OF THE SEA
4 DIGGERS DIARY NEWS AND VIEWS
12 DIARY OF AN AUSTRALIAN DREAM
84 PALAEO PROFILE
A large sauropod dinosaur leaves its footprints across the mud flats of an intertidal zone on the edge of the ancient continent Gondwana. Tracks made by these Early Cretaceous giants 130 million years ago are preserved in what is now the Broome Sandstone of the Dampier Peninsula in Western Australia.
MANAGEMENT AND STAFF
Australian Age of Dinosaurs Limited:
Chairman – David Elliott
Society Coordinator - Linda Young
Curator – Dr Alex Cook
Collections Manager - David Elliott
Chief of Operations – ???
Laboratory Manager – Trish Sloan
Manager Retail/ Admin. – Linda Young
Technicians – George Sinapius, Steven Rumbold
Palaeontology – Travis Tischler, Matt White, Stephen Poropat
Australian Age of Dinosaurs Journal
Editor – David Elliott
Graphic Design – David and Judy Elliott
Staff Writer – Robyn Molan
Typesetting/Graphic Design – Aaron Tomkins
Proofreading – Jenel Hunt, Bev Ursem
Her Excellency Ms Quentin Bryce AC, Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia
An unexpected letter arrived in the mail in June this year. Posted from Broome, WA, the letter detailed the concern held by a group of local residents for the future of dinosaur tracks along the shoreline north of their town. A portion of the area containing some of the best tracks had been flagged for industrial development and the letter pleaded for support in obtaining Natural Heritage listing for the trackways.
While it is not the role of Australian Age of Dinosaurs to become embroiled in controversy, the letter did tug at our heartstrings. The protection of Australian natural heritage is, in effect, the core business of AAOD and although we were not closely associated with the Broome dinosaur tracks, we were well aware of their significance. It was impossible to ignore and a letter to the Australian Heritage Council requesting that protection of this natural phenomenon be considered was soon on its way.
Although a story on the dinosaurs of Broome wasn’t planned for this year’s journal, the whole situation made me think. Located on the northern coastline of Western Australia, Broome is a long way from anywhere and, in spite of the significance of the dinosaur tracks, very few Australians know much about them. If they were on the east coast they would doubtless be a national icon – a major tourist attraction with palaeontologists crawling all over them. But Broome! Way out in the middle of nowhere?
It took no time to boil the whole thing down to two simple questions: Does isolation lessen significance? Does ignorance equal irrelevance? The answer to both was obvious. We concluded that although there might not be much we could do about the isolation of Broome’s dinosaurs, there was certainly something we could do about our ignorance of them. With that decision behind us, we set about planning how we might get this story together in time to beat the publishing deadline of Australian Age of Dinosaurs.
As soon as we delved into the history of the Broome tracks, I realised how little I knew about so much. Although I was aware that they had formed part of the Aboriginal people’s Dreamtime Stories for (possibly) many thousands of years, I was amazed to learn just how much scientific work had been done on them. I had no idea that there were so many tracks of so many different kinds of dinosaurs – or that each track was woven into the context of so many different palaeo environments. It quickly became evident that what I believed was an artefact of national importance was in fact an icon of international significance. And yet the average person knows very little about it …
For me, covering the Broome story has been an eye opener, and it joins a fascinating range of topics in this year’s journal – from the humble 105-million- year-old yabby fossils of Victoria to a cataclysmic event in south-east Asia that caused a glass hailstorm to rain on our continent 800,000 years ago. The articles are engaging, informative and interesting – in many cases representing the scientific research of very dedicated people including palaeontologists, students, geologists, botanists and everything in between. Some are famous for their work, others virtually unknown – it simply doesn’t matter. What does matter is that their research is understood and appreciated by every- day people because without this acceptance much of it could well be futile. It is imperative that we, as a nation, acknowledge their science and its relevance to our natural history because only then will we be able to truly devote our energies to preserving it. We may not always be able to change things for the better, but there is no excuse for not trying!