THE discovery of 21 different types of dinosaur tracks in a remote part of the Kimberley has been dubbed* Australia’s own Jurassic Park.
The tracks, on a stretch of coastline in the Kimberley region of Western Australia, have been studied by Palaeontologists (scientists who study fossils).
Their findings were recently published in a paper called Memoir of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology.
Palaeontologists from the University of Queensland and James Cook University said the tracks were the most diverse* discovery of its type in the world.
The footprints were unearthed* in rocks that are up to 140 millions years old.
Professor Steve Salisbury, who worked on the project, said the find was unparalleled* anywhere in the world.
“It’s such a magical place — Australia’s own Jurassic Park, in a spectacular wilderness setting,” he said.
“Among the tracks is the only confirmed evidence for Stegosaurus* in Australia. There are also some of the largest dinosaur tracks ever recorded.”
The region’s Aboriginal population, the Goolarabooloo people, approached scientists to study the tracks after the Western Australian government revealed in 2008 it planned to build a natural gas processing plant on the site.
The Goolarabooloo people already knew of the tracks and feared they would be lost forever, and with them, an important part of their own Dreamtime story, if the gas plant went ahead.
“We needed the world to see what was at stake,” Goolarabooloo official Phillip Roe said.
Mr Roe said the dinosaur tracks formed part of an Aboriginal Dreamtime story songline that traced the journey of a Dreamtime creator Marala, the Emu man.
The Dreamtime is a complex Aboriginal belief system of the world and it’s creation. The stories form law and ways of being and care of the environment.
A songline is one of the paths across the land which mark the route followed by “creator-beings”, stories that have been handed down through generations.
“Marala was the Lawgiver. He gave country the rules we need to follow. How to behave, to keep things in balance,” Mr Roe said.
The area was eventually protected by National Heritage status in 2011 and the gas project did not go ahead.
Professor Salisbury said there were thousands of tracks in the region.
Most of Australia’s dinosaur fossils had previously been found in eastern states.
unearthed: dug up
unparalleled: exceptional, having no equal
Stegosaurus: a type of dinosaur
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ACTIVITY 1: Palaeontology
Read or listen to the article carefully before completing these questions.
What is Palaeontology?
What were the palaeontologists in this article studying?
What was special about what they were studying?
Why has this area been nick named ‘Australia’s Jurassic Park’?
Extension: Aboriginal Dreamtime
The Goolarabooloo people already knew about these tracks. They were an important part of their Dreamtime story.
Who are the Goolarabooloo people?
What is the Aboriginal Dreamtime?
How were these footprints important to the local Aboriginal people?
Why did they invite the palaeontologists to come and study them?
Time: allow 30 minutes to complete this task
Curriculum links: English, Science, The Humanities – History
ACTIVITY 2: Stegosaurus
These tracks have provided the only confirmed evidence of Stegosaurus existing in Australia.
Use the internet or your school library to find out some more information on Stegosaurus.
Write an information report about them.
Include the following information:
What are they?
What did they look like?
How big were they?
What did they eat?
When did they live?
Any other interesting facts.
Extension: Dinosaur Footprints
These Palaeontologists were studying dinosaur footprints.
What do you think they would be able to learn about the dinosaurs from these footprints?
Talk with a partner to come up with what they may be able to learn about:
1. the dinosaurs (e.g. the Stegosaurus)
2. the environment at the time the dinosaurs lived
Write your ideas down in a chart.
Add another column if you come up with something that doesn’t fit in these categories.
Time: allow at least 60 minutes to complete this task
Curriculum links: English, Science
(Vocabulary, Connectives, Openers and Punctuation)
Imagine you are living in the time of the dinosaurs.
Create a list of dinosaur sound effects, for example bam and boom.
Now write a list of similes to describe the movements of dinosaurs.
Extension: Short Story
Using the figurative language from the previous activity, write a paragraph about the adventures of a dinosaur.
Time: allow 30 minutes for this activity
Curriculum Links: English, Big Write and VCOP
Activity provided by Andrell Education www.andrelleducation.com.au
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