DIGGING IT: Capricorn Caves paleontologist Rochelle Lawrence with Marianne Golding at the centre's open fossil day on Saturday. See more photos on page 12.
DIGGING IT: Capricorn Caves paleontologist Rochelle Lawrence with Marianne Golding at the centre's open fossil day on Saturday. See more photos on page 12. Capricorn Caves

GALLERY: Digging up prehistoric fossil finds at Cap Caves

BONES from a marsupial lion and goannas were among the exciting finds at the Capricorn Caves fossil open day on Saturday.

Now in its third year, the annual event has grown in size.

Capricorn Caves assistant manager Jordan Wheeler said around 1500 people came from around the region to take part in the dig.

"The atmosphere was fantastic, there were people who spent hours there ... from face painting, making slime,” he said.

"Out in the sun, enjoying all the different community organisations involved but a genuine learning opportunity and taking pride in discovering history of our region.

"It's learning the stories of (how) the creatures of half a million years (ago) lived where we are today.”

Diggers had the chance to find remains from more than 350,000 years ago.

Mr Wheeler said there was some significant finds, including an ankle bone of the pygmy marsupial lion, Thylacoleo hilli.

A molar of the species was discovered in 2017 and it is believed the animal is from 500,000 years ago.

Metre-long goanna vertebrae were also found.

There were some more finds and Queensland Museum's palaeontologist Dr Scott Hocknull will take them back for research.

"Hopefully it will paint the picture of some of the species that lived in our region during that time,” Mr Wheeler said.

More than 160 different species have been found in the ground at the park and Mr Wheeler said there is so much more untapped under the surface.

"It's (a) lifetime's worth of digging, no one could get through it all,” he said.

The staff were proud to share the digging with the local community and others who visited.

"Seeing children's eyes when they find a tooth, a leg bone ... they are the very first person to ever find it, that excitement of finding an animal that no one has ever seen.”

The Caves Rural Fire Brigade also ran a sausage sizzle on the day.

Mr Wheeler said this was important to the Capricorn Caves staff as a thank you to the fireys for the work they do, particularly with the fires last November that threatened the park.



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