Fossil emblem FAQs
What is a fossil emblem?
Each state and territory in Australia have certain emblems that represent significance to the people living there. For example, each state and territory have a state bird emblem, a state mammal emblem, and a state floral emblem. Some states and territories are also beginning to adopt a state fossil emblem to have a representation of the evolution and geographical changes that have occurred in the region.
Why is Victoria getting a fossil emblem?
State emblems recognise and celebrate the natural history of their region. Most Australian States have selected floral, faunal, fossil, and mineral emblems. Victoria has designated floral, faunal and mineral emblems but currently does not have a fossil emblem.
The geological history of Victoria stretches back over 600 million years. By looking at the fossil record, we discover the intriguing deep-time story of our region. The story includes massive movements in the continents due to plate tectonics, a changing climate, and the evolution of living ecosystems.
Exceptional fossils from internationally significant fossil sites in Victoria provide a vivid picture of Victoria's geological history, and the evolution of life on Earth. There are many special fossils that capture our imagination and are unique to this region.
Do any other states in Australia have fossil emblems?
Yes – currently, states that have a state fossil emblem are New South Wales (Devonian fish Mandageria fairfaxi), South Australia (Spriggina floundersi), and Western Australia (Gogo fish). Australian Capital Territory recently announced their intent to officially instate the trilobite Batocara mitchelli as their fossil emblem after a public voting campaign.
Do other countries have fossil emblems?
Yes. Most states in the United States of America have a state fossil emblem.
What is Victoria’s new fossil emblem?
Following a public vote in 2021, on 13 January 2022, the Victorian Government announced the 125-million-year-old extinct amphibian, Koolasuchus cleelandi, as the official State Fossil Emblem of Victoria.
Where will the fossil emblem appear and how will it used?
The state fossil emblem reflects and celebrates Victoria’s long geological history and Koolasuchus cleelandi will join other state emblems of Victoria: Leadbeater’s Possum, the Helmeted Honeyeater, the Common Seadragon, Common Heath, our state mineral, gold and our state tartan.
What was Koolasuchus cleelandi?
Koolasuchus cleelandi was a car-sized amphibian that lived alongside dinosaurs in Victoria during the Cretaceous period approximately 125 million years ago. Resembling something between a huge newt and a crocodile, Koolasuchus was adapted to life in the rushing rivers that once separated Australia and Antarctica. Fossils of the extinct amphibian have only been found at a few beaches and coves in South Gippsland on Bunurong Country.
Why is it called Koolasuchus cleelandi?
It was named after Michael Cleeland who found the jaw in 1990 that became the holotype of the species and Lesley Kool who spent months preparing the specimens which was first described in 1997. Koolasuchus is also something of a play on words as this species lived in a cool environment when Victoria was deep in the southern polar circle, plus the coincidence of the surname Kool was just too tempting to ignore. Also, 'Souchos', Greek for crocodile, is commonly used in naming temnospondyls because their bodies are similar in shape to those of crocodiles.
More about Koolasuchus cleelandi:
Koolasuchus cleelandi is an extinct temnospondyl amphibian that lived alongside dinosaurs in Victoria during the Cretaceous period approximately 125 million years ago.
Fossils of Koolasuchus were first found in 1978 near San Remo, South Gippsland, Victoria on Bunurong Country. The rocks Koolasuchus was found in were deposited during the Early Cretaceous (around 125 million years ago) in what would have been a large flood plain in a rift valley that formed as Australia was separating from Antarctica. At that time Victoria was within the Antarctic circle and the climate would have been cool, though the entire planet was warmer in the Cretaceous so the polar climate would have been warmer than the poles today.
What other species existed around the same time and in the same region as Koolasuchus cleelandi?
A variety of small, herbivorous, bipedal ornithopods superficially resembling kangaroos, a variety of small carnivorous theropod dinosaurs along with at least one large theropod, armoured ankylosaurs, and a ceratopsian.
An amphibian similar in body shape but only distantly related to temnospondyls like Koolasuchus, the Chinese Mountain Salamander has been observed alive in captivity for 60 years.
There were a variety of small, herbivorous, bipedal ornithopods superficially resembling kangaroos, a variety of small carnivorous theropod dinosaurs along with at least one large theropod, armoured ankylosaurs, and a ceratopsian.
How long did they typically live?
An amphibian similar in body shape but only distantly related to temnospondyls, the Chinese Mountain Salamandar has been observed alive in captivity for 60 years.
When did they became extinct?
At 125 million years of age, the Victorian temnospondyls are the youngest known. The polar location of Victoria at that time may have made it a refuge that favoured these amphibians over the similar body shaped crocodilians that preferred warmer waters. Hence their survival in Victoria 50 million years after becoming extinct elsewhere.
How was Koolasuchus cleelandi chosen as Victoria’s fossil emblem?
In August 2021, 11,563 Victorians voted for their favourite fossil from eight possible candidates to be crowned as the state’s official fossil emblem via an online voting system, with the ‘kool’ Cretaceous creature winning the mantle.
Why were these fossils chosen?
An expert panel of palaeontologists, geologists and scientists from Museums Victoria selected eight possible candidates for Victoria’s fossil emblem that are significant to science and unique to Victoria.
The fossil emblem was determined by public poll, 11,563 Victorians voted for their favourite fossil to be named the state’s official fossil emblem via an online voting system. Koolasuchus cleelandi was the winning fossil.
Can I view Koolasuchus in-person?
Yes! Museums Victoria will have the state fossil emblem on display in the 600 Million Years exhibition in Melbourne Museum’s Science & Life Gallery. This is included with general museum entry.