Cave diving detectives search for fossils in hidden depths to shed light on giant life forms

Cave diving detectives search for fossils in hidden depths to shed light on giant life forms

In the depths of a network of underwater caves, Julien Louys has been on the path of some alternatively unconventional animals.

Inspite of the sunken location, these creatures weren’t types of maritime existence — they were giant marsupials, and they turned extinct tens of thousands of years ago.

“For a extended time, it was imagined that all of these animals in essence dropped off a cliff, they all turned extinct at the a person time,” Dr Louys said.

“We don’t actually know.”

Professor Louys — a palaeontologist at Brisbane’s Griffith College, and an skilled scuba diver — has used the previous couple of times chipping absent at that mystery.

Accompanied by customers of the Cave Divers Association of Australia, and with a crew of scientists waiting at the area, Dr Louys has been searching caves around Mount Gambier in South Australia’s south-east, the place he has been gathering fossils.

Dr Julien Louys and his staff hope to learn about the environments extinct species lived in.()

The fossils belonged to ancient megafauna — a class that incorporates the two-and-a-50 percent tonne marsupial diprotodon (improperly referred to as a large wombat), the super-predator thylacoleo (the marsupial lion) and Palorchestes (at times named the marsupial rhino).

“The most prevalent sort of megafauna species that we find in this location are a team recognized as the sthenurines, which are quick-faced kangaroos,” he said.

“These creatures, some of them had been up to possibly 3 metres in peak and as opposed to contemporary kangaroos, we imagine some of them ended up essentially going for walks alternatively than hopping.”

Julien Louys queries for fossils at the Environmentally friendly Waterhole (Fossil Cave), on South Australia’s Limestone Coast.()

Dr Louys explained scientists were being concentrating on the underwater caves in which fossils experienced been perfectly-preserved right up until now, in which contemporary diving gear and strategies experienced rendered acquiring samples possible.

“In some situations the bones are just sitting on the floor of the flooring of the cave and they’ve been sitting there since the animal died, and that is probably tens of hundreds — if not hundreds of countless numbers — of yrs ago,” he said.

Dr Louys reported they hope to perform out what sort of ecosystem the animals lived in, by trying to reconstruct their diet plan.

“1 of the essential matters we are attempting to address with this undertaking is to definitely place these megafauna in a distinct landscape, to reconstruct in as wonderful a depth as probable what the environments would have been like, and how that might have transformed as a result of time,” he claimed.

Julien Louys has been cave diving in South Australia.()

They also want to function out the factors that led to their extinction.

“That is one particular of the most extended-ranging debates in Australian palaeontology, and global palaeontology: what happened to these megafauna?

“They all grew to become extinct in direction of the close of the Pleistocene and a person of the important debates is irrespective of whether it was individuals that induced their extinctions or regardless of whether it was environmental transform that brought about their extinctions.

Julien Louys is trying to get responses on the demise of some of Australia’s megafauna.()

“There is certainly been a ton of conjecture or a great deal of hypotheses that humans may perhaps have triggered the extinctions because weather modifications weren’t critical sufficient or were not impactful sufficient.

“But one particular of the gaps in our awareness of that time, and of these species, is what kind of environments they truly lived in and what type of ecologies these megafauna species had.”