Fossils at Emu Bay

Kangaroo Island

The Emu Bay on Kangaroo Island what a name for a famous fossils site.
It already sounds like blue sky and wide white beaches along with a scenic landscape. That come along with photogenic rock formations at the shore. And as a matter of fact, it is all there. Kangaroo Island in Australia could be worth a vacation alone for its beauty as a quick image search reveals.

Map of Emu Bay Fossil site on Kangaroo Island
The Emu Bay Site on Kangaroo Island (After B. Mchenry & A. Yates, 1992)

Paleontological aspects of the Emu-Bay site.

But since it is here about fossils we focus on this topic.
This paleontological site is famous for the fossils yield inside the Emu Bay Shale Formation. The site offers beds with soft tissue preservation. Therefore it is a important Konservat-Lagerstätte in the lower Cambrian.
Its age is lower Cambrian, Upper Botomian stage and about 515 Ma old.

Im comparison they are way older than the famous Burgess Shale what is about 505 Ma old. But they also younger than the Chengjiang biota which dates about 518 Ma back.
Because its age this site opens a other time window between two major Konservat-Lagerstätten.

CapeD'Estangia  - Image by Dave Simpson
Kangaroo Island “CapeD’Estangia ” – Image by Dave Simpson

In spite of its age the Emu Bay shale provides a view on a different palaeoenvironment
Other than the most Burgess Shale like Lagerstaetten the Emu-Bay facies represents a shallow water environment.
Its mainly more a siltstone or silty mud stone. Sometimes even with some mica flakes.
This different environment results also in a drastic change of the faunal composition.

Some Fossils Photos from the site.

Even with typical genera present like Anomalocaris or Isoxys the fauna appears to be less rich.

This is a faunal list of the Emu-Bay Shale Formation:

Phylum Arthropoda

  • Anomalocaris sp.
  • Anomalocaris briggsi Nedin, 1995
  • Isoxys communis Glaessner, 1979
  • Myoscolex ateles Glaessner, 1979
  • Tuzoia australis Glaessner, 1979
  • Xandarella spectaculum Hou et al., 1991

Phylum Arthropoda, Order Trilobita

  • Balcoracania dailyi Pocock, 1970
  • Emuella dalgarnoi Pocock, 1970
  • Emuella polymera Pocock, 1970
  • Estaingia bilobata Pocock, 1964 (Syn: Hsuaspis bilobata)
  • Redlichia sp.
  • Redlichia takooensis Lu, 1950

Phylum Lobopodia

  • Opabinia regalis Walcott, 1912

Phylum Nematomorpha

  • Paleoscolex antiquus Glaessner, 1979
  • Vetustovermis planus Glaessner, 1979
Rocky section of the Emu Bay Site - Image by Dave Simpson
Rocky section of the Emu Bay Site – Image by Dave Simpson

Special thanks to Dave Simpson who kindly provided not only the pictures of this site used here. But also spreading and promoting the awareness of this special paleontological site. Some of the fossil pictures come from the Trifoss Archive section.