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Where is Bluff Downs?

The Bluff downs fossil site is on the banks of Allingham Creek at Bluff Downs Station in northern Queensland (19° 40' 60'' S, 145° 33' E).

Why is Bluff Downs important?

Bluff Downs is recognised to be one of the most significant fossil sites of Pliocene age in Australia.

Fossil time period: Bluff Downs

Four million years ago the Australian landmass continued drifting northward, although fluctuating between warmer wetter periods, and cooler and drier ones. Bluff Downs was a wetland environment, similar to modern-day Kakadu, and was home to a rich diversity of animals. The lake and stream deposits of their fossils provide crucial information about this important stage in the evolution of the Australian continent and its animals.

Bluff Downs fossils

Following a trend that was to climax in the Pleistocene, many animals of the Pliocene grew very large. A variety of kangaroos would certainly have fallen prey to the savage terrestrial crocodile Quinkana babarra. The Bluff Downs Giant Goanna, Megalania sp., would have made short work of giant herbivores such as Zygomaturus, Palorchestes and Euryzygoma. And so too would the Bluff Downs Giant Python, Liasis sp., which at 8m in length was the largest snake ever to live on this continent.

Also at Bluff Downs were the ancestors of modern animals including animals unlike any known today. Koobor jimbarretti was a strange koala-like animal that still puzzles researchers. Flamingoes, which are no longer found in Australia, waded in the shallows for food. Ancestral dasyurids (marsupial carnivores), kangaroos, wombats and bandicoots all flourished here, as did Thylacoleo crassidentatus, the precursor of the leopard-sized Pleistocene Marsupial Lion T. carnifex.