Ancient opalised marine fossils are on public display at the South Australian Museum.

1 February 2012

105-million-year-old fossil

If it weren't for the National Cultural Heritage Account, we would have been unable to buy these beautiful fossils for the people of South Australia. They will make a most welcome addition to their collection.
—Ben McHenry, Senior Collections Manager, Earth Sciences, South Australian Museum

The National Cultural Heritage Account helped the South Australian Museum buy two extremely rare opalised crinoids from the opal fields at Coober Pedy, where they were discovered in 2007. Found only in Australia, opalised crinoids are marine life fossils made of solid opal.

The museum had decided to commit its entire acquisitions budget for the financial year to the purchase of these specimens but still could not raise enough to purchase them.

The two 105-million-year-old fossils are the most complete and best preserved examples that have been uncovered to date. They are a lasting reminder of echinoderms, more commonly known as sea lilies or feather stars. Echinoderms are related to star fish and sea urchins.