Kool dinosaur promoted to State Emblem
In exciting news for the Bass Coast region, the locally discovered Koolasuchus cleelandi has been named as Victoria's official State Fossil Emblem, following a public vote.
The four-metre Koolasuchus cleelandi had dozens of ridged fangs for piercing prey and two-inch tusks growing from the roof of its mouth. It was first discovered in 1978 near San Remo and fossils of Koolasuchus have only been found at beaches and coves in South Gippsland.
Resembling something between a huge salamander and a crocodile, Koolasuchus cleelandi lived in the rushing rivers that separated Australia and Antarctica during the Cretaceous period.
The species was named after fossil collector, educator and Bass Coast local Michael Cleeland who, in 1990, found the fossilised jaw that became the holotype of the species, and Melbourne Museum research associate Lesley Kool, who spent months preparing the specimens. Koolasuchus is also something of a play on words as the species lived in a cool environment when Victoria was deep in the southern polar circle.
Bass Coast Shire Council Acting CEO, Greg Box, said Koolasuchus cleelandi is the hero of the proposed Bass Coast Dinosaur Dinosaurs Trail.
“Lesley Kool and Mike Cleeland have been instrumental in developing the Trail project, which makes this announcement even more exciting,” Mr Box said.
Bass Coast Shire Mayor, Cr Michael Whelan said that the San Remo site, and the Dinosaurs Trail as a whole, presents a wonderful learning opportunity.
“San Remo, where the dinosaur was discovered has been identified as a key site in this unique experience and presents a significant opportunity for everyone to develop an understanding about the uniqueness of polar dinosaur fossils, their history and the global significance of this stretch of coastline,” Cr Whelan said.
The Bass Coast Dinosaurs Trail experience will generate enthusiasm in different parts of our region, drawing new and existing visitors deeper into the communities and economies of the Bass Coast.
The Trail will complement the permanent display at the Melbourne Museum and exhibitions such as 600 Million Years which showcases the origin of life in Victoria and features the Koolasuchus cleelandi.
“We look forward to partnering with the State Government to promote the importance of fossils and species such as the Koolasuchus in the future,” Cr Whelan said.