Research website of Dr Gilbert Price

Getting down underground in search of Ice Age megafauna

Fieldwork in caves

Fieldwork in caves

People often ask me what is involved in my fieldwork. It’s always pretty fun to describe the kinds of places that I get to go and to reflect on the type of work that I do. From working along crocodile-infested rivers in search of fossils eroding out of ancient creek banks, to checking out old excavated dams in the backs of farmer’s paddocks, fieldwork is pretty amazing and there’s nothing else quite like it.

One of the things that people seem to get a bit squeamish about, is the caving side of fieldwork. Caves are brilliant for accumulating the fossil remains of ancient animals, as I’ve mentioned in a couple of previous posts. To me, getting down and underground in search of fossils is quite fun, but it can also be pretty challenging, especially in some of the caves that I visit.

Crocodile tooth found along this river

Crocodile tooth found along this river

The short video below presents some of my work in caves in northern Australia. I’m always on the lookout for vertebrate fossils of any kind, but this is one of the more interesting caves that I get to visit:

It’s chock-full of the remains of Australia’s ancient Pleistocene megafauna – the Ice Age beasts that ruled Australia up until around 30-50 thousand years ago. The fossil assemblages in these deposits are really diverse, and include the remains of marsupial lions, diprotodons, giant forest wallabies, thylacines, and a range of other incredible animals.

Check out the video and let me know what you think- would you be up for this kind of fieldwork? The video was put together to highlight the type of work that we do as part of the Integrated Palaeoenvironmental Research Group– my research team at The University of Queensland. As always, I acknowledge the great support of the Australian Research Council who has funded this research, the good folk at the Chillagoe Caving Club for their wonderful assistance in the field, as well as all of the local landowners who kindly give their permission for my team and I to access their properties in search of fossils.

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Gilbert Price

Vertebrate palaeontologist at The University of Queensland
Gilbert has diverse research interests that include the study of Ice Age megafauna extinctions, climate and human impacts on coral reefs, and development of new fossil dating methods.

Comments

  1. Christian says:

    Love it! I reckon that I could handle it. Caving is just like rock climbing, but in the dark… and a little more squishy!

  2. Jane R. says:

    Nope, not for me! Loved seeing all those fossil bones though. That is incredible. I’ve never seen a megafauna fossil deposit as rich as that one 🙂

  3. PaleoPoet says:

    THAT’S CRACKERS, MATE!!

    DEFINITELY NOT FOR ME!!