At Australia’s new national park, see how life evolved on the planet

By Chloe Berge | National Geographic |

NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC - In the mid-20th century, geologist Reg Sprigg made a stunning discovery in South Australia’s Flinders Ranges. Under the searing outback sun, he unearthed delicate impressions made by animals that lived some 550 million years ago—the missing piece in our understanding of evolution that had long eluded naturalist Charles Darwin.

Called the Ediacaran biota (named after the Ediacara Hills where they were found), the fossils outline animals similar to modern-day anemones or seaworms and range from a few centimeters to a few feet long. They explain the transition between single-cell organisms and the hard-bodied, predatory animals of the Cambrian Explosion, or Biological Big Bang. It’s a key evolutionary step that Darwin wrestled with, known as Darwin’s Dilemma.

Now, the new Nilpena Ediacara National Park is preserving the revelatory fossils, offering travelers an up-close look at the scientifically rich area where they were found.

Mary Droser, a paleobiologist at the University of California, Riverside, has been the lead scientist at Nilpena for over 20 years. Droser and her team have made several significant Ediacaran biota discoveries in the area.



Let us help you with your search