The Steropodongalmani Opalised Fossil From Lightning Ridge N.S.W.

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It's airing on TV right now? I've seen it dozens of times but still would have re-watched it again on TV for the novelty factor :D

Shauno I'm pretty sure i saw that David Attenborough documentary too, it may have been the first episode of 'The Life Of Mammals'.

Sorry for the thread hijack btw!
 

Syndyne

Shaun Galman
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No problems at all hi-jack away! It's all free discussion here :D

Just took a couple of iPhone pics of my replica for you. I have my entire mineral collection out now (got off my butt before and pulled it out of storage finally after five years of being packed away) so I will get a few nicer photographs up on the threads here and there.

There are only three of these 18k gold replica's in the world. This one, my Uncles (who had them made originally) and one belonging to Prof. Alex Ritchie.

1374635526_steropodon1_copyshaun_galman_2013.jpg

1374635692_steropodon2_copyshaun_galman_2013.jpg


I'll get the other article done soon as I'd like to get a few other specimens posted up today.

Cheers,
Shauno.
 
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That's fantastic. Its larger than I thought.

I suppose it is a great way of 'keeping it in your collection' whilst the original is safely locked away in the Australian Museum.
 
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I am completely new to this post, having just come across an on-line image of a gold replica of a small opalised fossil mammal jaw found at Lightning Ridge in the early 1980s.

This unique specimen, the oldest fossil mammal ever discovered in Australia, was later named Steropodon galmani, after Dave Galman, the miner who found it and his brother Alan.

Dave's son Shauno, who photographed and posted the image, mentioned that there were only three copies of this gold replica. I know because I have the third gold replica.

As the Australian Museum's Palaeontologist from 1968-1995 I have mostly searched for, and worked on, very ancient fossil fishes, much older than the opalised fossils of Lightning Ridge.

But I also saw it as part of my job try to keep in touch with the opal-mining community. I tried to spread the word through the opal fields of the unique scientific importance of rare opalised fossils that were being discovered there. As everyone knows, many rare and unique opalised fosssil specimens have been cut up for their opal content without ever having been seen by scientists. In many cases these specimens were actually more valuable as fossils than as gemstones!

Dave and Alan Galman were honorable exceptions to the rule. They built up a fine private collection of opalised fossils which they put on public display and which they allowed me to examine when I visited the Ridge. So I knew their collection contained some scientifically important specimens but I didn't realise just how important until they needed to sell the collection and gave the Australian Museum first option.

I found funds to bring Dave, Alan and their collection to Sydney for detailed examination of their finds. It was only then that I first set eyes on a small beautifully-preserved opalised lower jaw with 3 distinctive teeth and immediately recognised them as mammal teeth - from a continent where no mammal remotely as old as this had ever been discovered before.

Since this mammal was new to science and needed a name I suggested that it be called Steropodon galmani, from the Greek for 'flash-of-lightning-tooth' and also acknowledging the Galman brothers' role in its discovery.

This was undoubtedly one of the highlights in my long professional fossil-hunting career and all credit to Dave and Alan Galman for saving this unique treasure for posterity.

Thanks to the publicity that Steropodon received, several years later some other opal miners at Lightning Ridge discovered and saved a second, but quite different, small opalised mammal jaw which was named Kollikodon (literally 'bun-shaped-tooth') ritchiei, for my role in its recovery!

Both of these national treasures are safely housed in the Australian Museum in Sydney.

I have good quality images of both opalised jaws if you would like to feature them!
 

Syndyne

Shaun Galman
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Hi Alex,

So great to hear from you and have you here on the forums. Thanks kindly for the post!

It's been a few years since we've seen you to say the least! But, if by chance you ever find yourself out this way again please let us know as we're still all here and would love to catch up.

I very much miss seeing the opalised fossil displays that the Museum used to put on at the Opal Festival. Definitely a great privilege to be a part of.

If you'd like to email or PM Nugget (the admin) or myself I would be more than happy to post some more photos, and possibly feature the Kollikodon ritchiei on a thread here also.

Thanks again for everything you've done over the years Alex, both for us and everyone else involved in recognizing the importance of opalised fossils. You're a great asset to the Paleontology world!

Kindest regards and all the best,
Shauno.
 
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Shauno,
Thanks for the prompt response.
I take it from your reply that your Dad and Alan are still around and I trust they are both keeping well so please pass on my best wishes, but I suspect that I am unlikely to get back to the Ridge myself much as I would like to.

And yes - I can send you some nice images of the two opalised jaws but I need advice on how to send them to a website such as this or, even better, if you give me your email address, I can send them to you to insert wherever you wish.

The more people who see these beauties the better are the chances of someone discovering, recognising and, even more importantly, saving more specimens like them. A website like this would have been a godsend back in the 1980s and 90s

If you want to see what I have been up to lately, do a Google search for 'Attenborough Canowindra' and log onto either the Sydney Morning Herald entry or the Melbourne Age site. And don't miss the accompanying video!

There's a long story behind that.

best wishes,
Alex
 

Syndyne

Shaun Galman
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Hi Alex,

I'll send you an email as that way we can get a few possible threads started (it's a ten post minimum to upload photos).

We're still all living in the Ridge, though Dave is about to start traveling around the country soon. Both, Dad (Alan) and Dave send their kind regards and best wishes to you!

Dad and I were still mining right up until 2010 but, as we are now in a constant battle with the DPI and their OH&S regulations we decided to regretfully call it quits after almost fifty years in the opal game (Dad and Dave first started mining here on and off in 64).

I have to confess we actually don't own any good photos of the jawbone (other than the few small ones I have in fossil books) and would greatly appreciate a copy or two if possible.

Dave had recently given most of his left over fossil belongings and all his associated literature of the Stereopdon etc. to the new Opal and Fossil Centre project that is due for construction here at some point in the near future. If all goes as planned that will be a great asset to the Ridge and Opalised Fossils alike. Anything we can do to spread the word of the scientific importance of some of these rare finds is a real asset to all Mankind.

All the best,
Shauno.
 
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Wow, it is so great to have you on the forum Alex!

It is my goal in life to become a Paleontologist, and I will hopefully be studying Paleobiology at Macquarie University from next year. I saw that article about you and the fish from Canowindra, is it true the museum is shifting its focus away from Paleontology? How would one get a job as a Paleontologist in Australia? I hear the current situation is not a good one, perhaps you have a few tips for someone who is looking at following a similar career path as yourself? I'd really appreciate it.

Cheers,
Nathan
 

Syndyne

Shaun Galman
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Hi all,

I'd just like to put a somewhat sad addendum here (and also the reason for my absence for sometime now), my Uncle, Dave Galman passed away on the 14th of June at 78 years. We finally got to put him to rest yesterday in a small service.

I will make sure his major contributions to the Lightning Ridge community and the Opal & Fossil industry over the last six decades are never forgotten.

Kindest regards,
Shaun.
 
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Very sad news Shaun. Sincere condolences to you and your family.

Lightning Ridge is such a fascinating place. My grandfather used to go there a lot back in the day, and introduced me to opals and the fossils he found there.
It's definitely worth making sure your uncle's contributions are carried on for future generations to gain knowledge from his experience and enjoy.
All the best to you for this project.

Regards,
Megsy
 
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Hi all,

I'd just like to put a somewhat sad addendum here (and also the reason for my absence for sometime now), my Uncle, Dave Galman passed away on the 14th of June at 78 years. We finally got to put him to rest yesterday in a small service.

I will make sure his major contributions to the Lightning Ridge community and the Opal & Fossil industry over the last six decades are never forgotten.

Kindest regards,
Shaun.
So sorry to hear of your uncle's passing Shauno, my condolences to you and your Dad. I only just noticed your post.
 

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