Finding Fossils is Fun

DRB November Meeting

Members of the Darling Range Branch and visitors were given a treat at the November meeting when 10-year old Poppy Greenacre gave the “Kids’ talk”. The Kids’ talk has been on our program for two years and involves our younger members giving a 5-minute talk on an aspect of natural history they’re keen on. It’s proving very popular.

At first several of our youngsters held back from doing one and Drew Wallace, Ben Wallace and Charles Porter were the stars of the show. However, over time others have become more confident and Kiska Carter did one on Ningaloo, Ella Norbury on Ravens, Gemma Clare on frogs and this time Poppy volunteered to do one on fossils.

Poppy is mad keen on fossils and is in awe of Professor Ken McNamara whom she saw speak on the topic earlier in the year.

Poppy began by explaining that she had been on several fossil hunting holidays with her family. These included trips to Kalbarri on the Murchison River, Bringo about 450 km north of Perth, and Gingin. The list of fossil hunting gear taken includes: a hammer, glasses, brush, hat, gloves, apron, bags and containers, notebook and camera.

Details were given of the types of fossils she found in each area and the geological formations in which they occurred. In Kalbarri, for instance, Poppy stated that the rocks are Tumblagooda Sandstone laid down about 450 million years ago. She showed us her own photographs including one of trace fossils called Skolithos, which are vertical burrows in the sand, probably made by worm-like creatures.

Trace fossils called Skolithos at Kalbarri, P Greenacre

In contrast, at Bringo Rail Cutting, the rocks are Newmarracarra Limestone which was deposited about 175 million years ago.

Fossil in GIngin chalk by Poppy Greenacre.png
Fossil in Gingin chalk, P Greenacre

In Gingin, Poppy and family visited the Molecap Hill Quarry where she saw rocks of Gingin Chalk and Molecap Greensand which were deposited about 85 million years ago. They found the following fossils there: ammonites, clams, worm tubes, sea lilies and sea urchin spines.

It was an inspiring, informative and clear presentation. As one of the audience members commented afterwards, “she was completely on focus”. And to give a thank you, none other than Professor Ken McNamara popped out of the audience, much to Poppy’s delight. In closing he said in his own career he had not given his first speech on fossils until he was 25 years old and here was Poppy, giving hers at 10. A remarkable achievement Poppy, well done, and a good job you referenced the items you used from Ken’s book called We Came from Slime!

We now have youngsters queuing up to do more next year. An extra incentive is that the talks can be recorded and put on YouTube. Sometimes the children even make it a condition: “I’ll do one if I can go on YouTube!” However, none has reached YouTube celebrity status yet—but there’s time. Poppy’s was recorded and will appear on our channel shortly.

Rachel Green