Australia: The Land Where Time Began

A biography of the Australian continent 

Golden Grove Fossil Locality

This site is based on the North Maslin Sand that has been mined. This is a Middle Eocene site at a sand and brick-clay quarry in Adelaide. It is contemporaneous with Nelly Creek and Maslin Bay.

The fossils occur in clay lenses in this site. The region was a plain during the Middle Eocene. Braided rivers meandered across it, and oxbow lakes formed in places. These were the sites for the deposition of the clay lenses. The inclusion of leaves in the clay indicate that they were surrounded by forest, or possibly that forest surrounded the basin. The matrix the fossils are found in is either beige or grey, which is less-oxidised.

The fossils take the form of brown impressions on the beige matrix and mummified plant tissue in the grey matrix. The mummified fossils can be extracted as with the Nelly Creek mummified tissue, and the cuticle structure and vein pattern means it is possible to identify them.

Leaves with serrated margins are the most common at this site. They have been identified as belonging to the ELAEOCARPACEAE of the genus Sloanea or  Elaeocarpus (blueberry ash). Another leaf type commonly found at this site is Banksieaephyllum, that is similar to those from the tribe Banksieae of the PROTEACEAE. It is thought they could be the leaves of Musgraveianthus, PROTEACEAE, the flowers of which have been found at this site. Pollen from this flower has also been found at the site. The flower was first described at the Anglesea site in Victoria, which is slightly younger.

2 taxa of laurels have been found in the Golden Grove site. They were important members of floras from the Early Tertiary Period. STERCULIACEAE (Brachychiton, kurrajongs and flame trees), and MYRTACEAE (Myrtaciphyllum) are common. There were also some leaves that could possibly be Eucalyptus, but they haven't yet been described. Also identified were conifers Decussocarpus and Podocarpus (PODOCARPACEAE, and a climbing fern Lygodium). Very large leaves, up to 20 cm long and 10 cm wide, with rounded bases, have also been found. They appear similar to Artocarpidium (MORACEAE - fig, breadfruit and jak fruit). They were described in 1883 from Vegetable Creek in northern New South Wales.

Spores and pollen from the site show that ferns were very common, conifers were a minor component, the most common of which were the podocarps. Nothofagus species and CASUARINACEAE were not common. There were many members of the PROTEACEAE, some samples show high diversity of species.

Sources & Further reading

  • Mary E. White, The Greening of Gondwana, the 400 Million Year story of Australian Plants, Reed, 1994
  • Mary E White, After the Greening, The Browning of Australia, Kangaroo Press, 1994
  • Penny Van Oosterzee, The Centre - The Natural history of Australia's Desert Regions, Reed Australia, 1993





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                                                                                           Author: M.H.Monroe  Email:     Sources & Further reading