A secret has finally been revealed. A team of scientists has quietly spent three years excavating a stunning fossil site in New South Wales, Australia. The site, called McGraths Flat, presents interesting fossils of plants, insects, and animals dating between 11 million and 16 million years ago during the Miocene epoch.
One of the most notable discoveries is the fossil spider. According to a statement issued by the Australian Museum on Monday, the team discovered 13 spiders – “often perfectly preserved” – in McGraths Flat. As of a few years ago, only four spider fossils were found across Australia.
The site was once an ancient rainforest and researchers have found fossils of wasps, cicadas, ants, termites and even dragonfly nymphs. It is not only a creeping reptile represented there, but also plant leaves, flowers, fish and a single feather. Many species seem new to science. Remarkably detailed samples revealed the contents of fish stomachs and pollen microfossils on insects’ bodies.
Team A Published A paper on his findings is in the journal Science Advances last week. “Until now it has been difficult to tell what these ancient ecosystems looked like, but the level of conservation at this new fossil site means that even small, fragile organisms such as insects have been turned into well-preserved fossils,” Lead author Matthew McCurry said:Paleontologist at the Australian Museum and the University of New South Wales.
The fossils paint a picture of a changing ecosystem when the rainforests were disappearing and may indicate what lies ahead in parts of Australia. Study co-author David Cantrill of Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria said, “Fossils of the McGraths Flat Plant give us a window into the vegetation and ecosystems of a warmer world, one we’re likely to see in the future.”