Sunday, November 25, 2012

Curt Teichert and Gogo, Kimberley, Australia

Kimberley, Western Australia
Paleography suggests that towards the end of the Devonian Australia had travelled from the vicinity of Equator towards South. Earth had no ice caps at that time. Australia's earlier tropical climate had cooled and the environment was somewhat drier. More land became visible as the ocean water level was lower. In this way Australia's low coasts were covered by shallow waters with corals and much sea life.

It is in this environment that one of the most significant steps of evolution took place - life moving from water also to land. One of the richest divine Nature Reserves where we learn about this period is known from Kimberley, North Western Australia.

Curt Teichert
Professori Curt Teichert
The first one to report a particularly rich and well-prserved Lagerst├Ątte in Kimberley was Curt Teichert (1903-1996) who found it in 1940. Teichert was married to a Jewish woman and was forced to escape from Hitler's Germany. An academic scholarship allowed the family to move to Australia where Teichert was teaching Paleontology in the University of Perth 1937-45.  At the same time he was busy doing field research exploring and mapping the rich fossil fields exposed in the cattle stations.

In Kimberley region the mud and sand that had gathered to the bottom of shallow seas was turned by high pressure into siltstone, shale and sandy limestone, calcarinite. Continental push raised these higher up and strong erosion removed softer sediments. In this way Australia has a rare region where ancient sea bottom and Devonian reefs have survived. The discoveries have largely consisted of fossils belonging to Frasnian fauna. 

Since Teichert's pioneering work many additional important findings have been made in the areas of two Kimberly cattle stations:

From Australia Teichert moved to United States and continued the study of Devonian period there. Later he moved to Pakistan and made research on the border between Permian and Triassic periods.

It is interesting that the Nazi rulers of Germany suggested to the government of Australia that they are ready to free some Australian prisoners of war in exchange of professor Teichert and his family. There was no deal.

1940 Actinosiphonate cephalopods (Cyrtoceroida) from the Devonian of Australia: Royal Society of Western Australia Journal, v. 26, no. 2, p. 59–75.

Gogo research goes on!

Fish head and 3D model
Gogonasus is the only known fish from this vicinity belonging to a major group called the tetrapodomorphs, an evolutionary branch that included early fish ancestors of the first four legged land animals, or ‘tetrapods’.
Dr. Tim Senden Australian National University

No comments:

Post a Comment