Fish fossil added to State's emblem - NSW Nationals

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Minister for Industry, Resources and Energy, Anthony Roberts and NSW Nationals Leader and Minister for the Arts Troy Grant have announced an official State fossil emblem for NSW.

“This declaration recognises the rich scientific heritage that lies beneath our feet,” Mr Roberts said.

“The 370 million year old fish, with the scientific name Mandageria fairfaxi, is one of the largest fish fossil finds in the world.

“It measured up to 1.7 metres in length and was found in a 1993 excavation near Canowindra in the central west of NSW.”

The Geological Survey of NSW undertook consultation with paleontological experts, cultural associations and institutions to determine a worthy State fossil emblem.

Mandageria fairfaxi, named after a local creek and commemorating the contribution of publisher James Fairfax in supporting research into the fossil fish, is unique to NSW. It featured a movable neck that marked a critical stage in vertebrate evolution.

Mr Grant said: “This fossil builds on Canowindra’s reputation as one of the best destinations for paleontology enthusiasts in the world.

“Canowindra is now home to the Age of Fishes Museum, close to where the fossils were originally found 60 years ago and has become a tourism beacon for the region.
“Visitors to this Museum can follow in the footsteps of Sir David Attenborough and actually touch the real fossils of this fish.”

Member for Orange Andrew Gee said: “This fossil was located in what was a former billabong that suddenly dried up approximately 370 million years ago, preserving thousands of fish fossils from the Late Devonian period.

“A council worker grading a road accidentally uncovered the scientifically important fossil site in 1955 and it is now part of Australia’s National Heritage.

“By raising awareness of fossils and the State’s unique geological history, geotourism across regional NSW will be boosted.”

The Waratah remains the official NSW State Floral Emblem while the fossil joins the list of the other existing NSW State Emblems:

  • State Bird Emblem – the Kookaburra;
  • State Animal Emblem – the Platypus;
  • State Fish Emblem – the Blue Groper; and
  • State Gemstone Emblem – the Black Opal.

Western Australia is the only other Australian State or Territory to have a State fossil emblem.

The Division of Resources and Energy (DRE) is running a competition for NSW primary school children to ‘nickname’ the fossil, with entries closing on Friday 18 September.

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