Nov 7, 2012

The Lure of Old Fossils (Part 1)


Detour for a Crocodile's Smile!

by Sharon Archer

  • Toothy smile from the past - Model of Isisfordia duncani

I can't help it - fossils and dinosaurs fascinate me!  Which is why, when I read an article about Isisfordia in a tourist brochure we picked up on our travels... well, we just had to detour to Isisford to meet this great-g-g-g-g-g-g-g-g-g-grandfather of crocodiles.  And here he is...


His fossilized remains were discovered by Ian Duncan and this replica is proudly displayed in The Outer Barcoo Interpretation Centre in Isisford.

He's much smaller than I'd expected... measuring in at a modest 1 metre in length and weighing in at about 4 kilograms.
  • Close up of Osteoderms (the bones that would have been in the skin covered by scales) and the right thigh bone.

  • This is him compared to a large, present-day (1000 kg) estuarine crocodile

  • I. duncani compared to the width of that big saltie.
The Australia that this little crocodile inhabited was vastly different country to the one we know today. When he lived, 98 million years ago, lakes and swamps and rivers covered the huge basin that had once been the Eromanga Sea.  

Isisfordia duncani was our introduction to Outback Queensland's fabulous fossils and we were delighted to be travelling with no particular itinerary so we could detour to discover these unexpected treasures.
The area is a dinosaur-lover's paradise... and I'll share more of our discoveries in the months to come.

So how about you, are you interested in fossils and dinosaurs?  Do you like travelling with a firm itinerary or do you prefer to wing it and see what turns up?

PS this is us camped on the banks of the Barcoo River at Isisford...


  1. Okay, is this where I confess that I'm a complete pleb because I'm afraid fossils don't really do that much for me. Give me a real life weird and wacky animal (or even an un-weird, un-wacky one) and I'm there. But talk to me about something that's been dead for 98 million years and my brain turns off.

    That said, Sharon, I really love the pictures! Sounds as if you've had plenty of adventures on your travels. I'm definitely jealous on that head. :-)

  2. I remember studying fossils in Biology in High School. I swear I was the only one in the class who got hooked. I could classify with the best of them.

    If you have children then you can't escape from the dinosaurs. not that I ever tried.

    I like a loose itinerary when I travel, but a fair idea of the direction we are headed is always a good idea.

  3. LOL, Michelle! I like real-life weird and wacky animals too... and the non-weird and non-wacky as well. But with the fossils, I think it's all the little bones and the jigsaw puzzle-ness of it. And the very fact the animal was right there, on that spot, all those millions of years ago and imagining how the world looked for it?

    And I especially love the fossils when they're so beautifully preserved in the stone the way this one is, with each delicate bone positioned so perfectly...
    (happy sigh!)

  4. Oooo, Mary! A fellow fossil lover! :) How cool that you did fossils in biology - I think I'd have got hooked too! As it is I've spent way too much time surfing the Net and reading up on soils and rocks and bones! Great fun!

    Check on the loose itinerary with a general direction! That's what we did when we left home for our travels. We knew we wanted to travel up through Outback New South Wales and Queensland to The Gulf. We just didn't expect it to take us quite as long as it did! BUT we loved every minute of it! We'll just have to do the coast on another trip... mmm, such a great excuse to plan our next trip!

  5. That's really cool. What a fun thing to see. We have lots of dinosaur fossils a few hours away. Those are always fun to go see. It's neat to think that they were once real, live creatures walking on Earth.

  6. It was fun, Caryn! There's something much more "immediate" and "real" about seeing the fossils in the area they actually came from.

    And you have fossils quite near where you are! Awesome! Were your dinosaurs land or sea creatures?

  7. PPS : we're off camping for a week... mmm, I wonder if there are fossils where we're going! I'll have to keep my eyes peeled! Will pop back in to chat when we return.

  8. I've grown to love fossils too, Sharon. My nine year old boys have been fascinated by them since they were tiny and we've trekked over many a hill and dale to find them. We visited a petrified forest recently and the boys wanted to stay for hours looking at all the different fossils embedded in the tree trunks.

    Gosh, I'm glad that old croc wasn't around when you and the DH were doing your camping. I wouldn't like to come across it in the dark - or the light for that matter.

  9. Love your fossils, Sharon. I haven't been lucky enough to see any other than in the museum. after reading your page they're now on the "to do" list.

  10. Wow, I had no idea the great-g-g-g-g-g-g-g-g-g-grandfather of crocodiles was so small! I guess I fell into the trap of thinking everything back then was bigger than today because of T-Rex and friends.

    Great photos!

  11. Sharon, thanks so much for sharing these pics. He looks almost cute compared with his current day cousin. Though perhaps not cuddly.

    I love fossils. My brother was a geology nut so I discovered early the fun of chipping away at rock and uncovering the most amazing things. Some of those prehistoric ferns were just gorgeous. As for finding new species preserved in rock - what a thrill that must be. Like digging for treasure!