State emblems are plants, animals or objects that have special meaning for our State. They are things that are particularly abundant or unique to South Australia and favourably represent our State.
The South Australian fossil emblem will be an ancient marine creature preserved as an Ediacaran fossil. The Ediacaran fossils are the first signs of animal life on earth and were discovered in South Australia by a South Australian geologist. South Australian scientists described and named most of the species. These fossils have since been found in other countries, but the fossil site in South Australia is one of the best in the world. A State fossil emblem will help generate pride in our State’s natural wonders.
A State fossil emblem will help generate pride in our State’s natural wonders and a sense of ownership for our unique fossil heritage. It can be used to focus attention on South Australia’s scientific contribution to the fields of palaeontology and geology, and generate support for the ongoing protection of our fossil heritage. The emblem can be used in creative ways by education and community groups to boost tourism and build regional business opportunities. Developing a fossil emblem is also part of a broader action plan. The State Fossil Emblem project is being coordinated by the South Australian Museum in collaboration with the Department of State Development; the Department for Environment, Water and Natural Resources; and the Department of the Premier and Cabinet.
You can choose our State fossil emblem—anyone can vote on the four Ediacaran species shortlisted here.
These species lived in the Flinders Ranges 645 to 542 million years ago when the area was covered by an inland sea.
Spriggina floundersi is only found in South Australia. It has a curved head and a segmented body tapering towards the tail end. It is named after South Australian geologist Reg Sprigg, who discovered the first Ediacaran fossil.
Dickinsonia costata is the largest of the Ediacaran species found in South Australia. It is a circular, flattened worm with segments radiating out from the centre. It can be as small as a fingerprint or as large as a car tyre.
Tribrachidium heraldicum is an unusual disc-shaped creature unrelated to any animals living today. It has three spiralling ‘arms’ radiating from the centre covered by sieve-like nets that may have helped it trap food.
Parvancorina minchami is a small, shield-shaped creature with a ridge on its back like an anchor. It was discovered by Hans Mincham, the first information officer at the South Australian Museum.
South Australia has many significant fossil sites, like the extinct Australian megafauna of the World Heritage-listed Naracoorte Caves in the south east, ancient marine arthropods at Emu Bay on Kangaroo Island, and opalised fish and reptiles at Coober Pedy and Andamooka in the state’s far north. However, the Ediacaran animals are the oldest known animals on Earth. They were the first complex animals with symmetrical shapes and defined features. Before the Ediacaran Period, single cell microbes were the only forms of animal life but after the Ediacaran Period, animals developed with shells, scales and skeletons. An Ediacaran fossil was chosen as our State’s fossil emblem as it represents a unique time in animal evolution.
The four Ediacaran species were nominated by a scientific advisory committee representatives from the South Australian palaeontological community and overseen by an advisory committee, being chaired led by the South Australian Museum. They used A a wide range of selection criteria were used to choose the fossils including: our scientific understanding of the animal’s features and characteristics; fossil size; and uniqueness or significance to South Australia.
The State Fossil Emblem project is being coordinated by the South Australian Museum in collaboration with the Department of State Development; the Department for Environment, Water and Natural Resources; and the Department of the Premier and Cabinet.
The Ediacaran animals that lived in the calm, shallow seas 600 million years ago, range from frond-like soft corals on stalks, which drifted back and forth in the current, to enormous segmented flat worms that slid over the sea floor. They are the ancestors of today’s sponges, corals, sea-snails, worms and crustaceans.
Floral emblem: Sturt’s desert pea (Swainsona formosa; adopted 23 November 1961). A legume plant with a brilliant red and black flower and soft grey foliage. This it is probably the most striking and distinctive of all the plants of inland Australia.
Faunal emblem: hairy-nosed or plains wombat (Lasiorhinus latifrons; adopted 27 August 1970). An Australian marsupial mostly confined to South Australia. It has soft grey-brown fur, short muscular legs and strongly clawed feet designed for digging the deep cool, burrows essential for survival in the arid South Australian environment.
Gemstone emblem: opal (adopted 15 August 1985). A colourful and valuable precious gemstone. South Australia is the world’s most important source of opal, with the state’s three major opal fields—Coober Pedy, Mintabie, and Andamooka—supplying eighty per cent of total world production.
Marine emblem: leafy sea dragon (Phycodurus eques; adopted 8 February 2001). A relative of the seahorse found along Australia’s southern coast, centred on South Australian waters. Elaborate leaf-like appendages help to camouflage leafy sea dragons among rocky reefs and sea grass meadows.