Our Lost Mega Fauna

Diprotodon, an ancient ancestor to our modern wombat and koala.Click to view  and print out the question sheet


Our journey to find the ancient mega fauna of Australia begins by looking in our earth. Involve yourself in the game " Layers of The Past" to discover what is beneath our feet. Our rocks contain the evidence that these animals once lived on the Australian continent. Rocks containing the fossilized remains of these animals have been discovered in various areas throughout Australia. On the link, read about the fossil sites in Australia. These fossil sites contain a unique and rich source of mega fauna from 110 million to 15 000 years ago. Picture of palaeontologists at a  Diptrotodon fossil site.Fossilization is the process whereby a once living thing is turned into a fossil. This is a long process and generally the fossil is found in a sedimentary rock. On the link, read how a fossil is formed. Act as a palaeontologist and match these living specimens with their fossilized relatives.

During the periods of time that the mega fauna roamed the land of Australia, the map of the world looked a lot different to the map we know today. Scientists such geologists and palaeontologists have developed maps to show the placement of Australia and the other continents through the history of time. This movement or drifting of the continents across the earth is a result of the continents being on different tectonic plates. To know how this happens you need to act as a geologist and understand plate tectonics.

Through the Australian continent being isolated- cut off from the other continents some one hundred million years before present, the dinosaur, bird and marsupial life forms that developed became unique to Australia. No where else in the world, has Australian mega fauna been discovered. Many of our existing fauna species can be linked back to fossil remains of our earlier mega fauna species. Australia had a large and varied mega fauna population and it is interesting to see some of the links to our existing marsupials living today.Picture of some mega fauna species

The reason for mega fauna not surviving to today is unknown, but as the palaeontologists discover more fossil and bone remains, ideas are being put forward on the reasons for mega fauna extinction. Involve yourself in the game " The Big Debate" and consider which argument you favour.

To be continued.



Designed and written by Graeme McCulloch © 2002 Cardiff Public School / Contact us