Rare fossil sites in the Flinders Ranges one step closer to gaining World Heritage status

© Provided by ABC NEWS
An Ediacaran fossil at Nilpena Station in the Flinders Ranges.  (ABC News: Trent Murphy)

Parts of South Australia’s Flinders Ranges that are home to fossils more than half a billion years old have inched closer to gaining World Heritage status.

Several sites within the Flinders Ranges, including Nilpena Station, have been placed on Australia’s Tentative List for World Heritage. 

It brings the sites one step closer to joining an illustrious club across the world which includes places such as Machu Picchu, Yosemite National Park and the Galapagos Islands. 

The successful nomination follows years of effort by palaeontologists who have been excavating rare Ediacaran fossils believed to be 550 million years old.

Associate professor Diego Garcia-Bellido said the fossils provided an insight into some of our planet’s very early evolutionary steps.

“Ediacara is the first time in our planet that we have complex life,” he said. 

“We come, after 3 billion years … of single-celled evolution, to a world that begins to have complex life. Eventually some of our animal ancestors begin to appear.” 

He said it was crucial the fossils were protected for future generations.

“We cannot afford to lose the only evidence we have of what this planet looked like 550 million years ago,” Mr Garcia-Bellido said. 

“South Australia has a responsibility, but also the honour of being the custodians of this treasure.” 

Environment Minister David Speirs said achieving World Heritage status would ensure the Flinders Ranges were recognised as a place of international significance.

“Achieving World Heritage status requires a place to be aligned with very specific criteria, and strong evidence that the values being nominated are absolutely unique and not replicated anywhere else in the world,” he said. 

“This tentative listing provides us with an opportunity to celebrate and share this very unique part of South Australia on a global scale.” 

The state government will now prepare a full nomination to be submitted to UNESCO over the next two years. 

South Australia has one World Heritage-listed site in the Naracoorte Caves.

Source: Thanks msn.com