If you climbed down through the branches of the evolutionary tree, from child to parent for countless generations, you would eventually meet the greatest-grandparent of us all. But when did that animal evolve? And would we know it when we saw it?
The new Nilpena Ediacara National Park, six hours north of Adelaide, South Australia, is home to fossils that may help us answer some of these questions. Its dusty red hillsides offer an exclusive window into the world at the dawn of animal life, and in July this year, Cosmos was invited up to visit.
We spent time with palaeontologists, parks staff and landowners to discover exactly why this national park is such a globally significant place.
The Royal Institution of Australia has an Education resource based on this article. You can access it here.
Cosmos Magazine issue 92 went on sale on Thursday 2 September 2021.
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Lauren Fuge is a science journalist at Cosmos. She holds a BSc in physics from the University of Adelaide and a BA in English and creative writing from Flinders University.
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