Fish fossils in Canowindra
|Sir David Attenborough and Dr Alex Ritchie in Canowindra|
where a large fish fossil site was partly excavated 20 years ago.
The naturalist and wildlife broadcaster Sir David Attenborough has described a collection of Australian fossils neglected by the state's natural history museum as ''world class''.
On a break from his two-week speaking tour around the country, Sir David was taken to a site in NSW's central west where hundreds of ancient fish perished at the bottom of a small lake 360 million years ago.
Arguably one of the country's most impressive fossil deposits, the site reflects a time when fish ruled the world and animals were on the verge of walking on land.
|Rock of ages: Sir David Attenborough and Alex Ritchie|
with the fossils in Canowindra. Photo: Janie Barrett
Today, evidence of this event can be seen on several large rock slabs on display at Canowindra's Age of Fishes Museum.
''When you look at one of these slabs you can see it is extraordinary,'' said Sir David.
''What you have here is dozens and, if the rock was big enough, hundreds of these things piled one on top of another.''
The intrepid traveller, who turned 87 in May, was invited to visit the rare fossil deposit by Australian palaeontologist Alex Ritchie, a world authority on early fishes and former senior researcher at the Australian Museum.
Dr Ritchie led the first, and only, excavation of the road side site just outside Canowindra exactly 20 years ago this week.