The Western Australian Museum palaeontology team has wrapped up a second two-week field trip to recover rare and near-complete Diprotodon skeletons. The recovery is highly significant to the study of Australia's ancient megafauna.

The Western Australian Museum's palaeontology team has completed another highly successful two-week dig of Diprotodon skeletons and other species at Cape Preston, near the Sino Iron magnetite project, 100km southwest of Karratha, with the help of local students, volunteers and Traditional Owners.

This latest expedition was made possible by the partnership between the WA Museum, the Foundation for the WA Museum, CITIC Pacific Mining (CPM) and the support of the Mardudhunera People.

CPM has provided logistical and financial support for the program for the past two years.

Recognised as a site of major scientific significance, WA Museum Curator and expedition leader Dr Kenny Travouillon said this year's dig had two main objectives.

“Firstly, to recover some of the fossils we identified last year and to explore other species – which might provide vital clues to what this area looked like a hundred thousand years ago.

"And secondly, to maximise the opportunities for community engagement – particularly with young people. We want to bring science to the next generation of enquiring minds."

Dr Travouillon and other representatives visited Tambrey School, showing students some of the fossils and artists' impressions of the giant wombat-like creatures.

The dig team also welcomed students from Karratha Senior High School, St Luke's College and Clontarf Karratha Academy to join the dig for a day, gaining first-hand knowledge from some of Australia's leading palaeontologists.

In 1991, the area's first diprotodon skeletons were found by chance. Last year, the WA Museum launched a major expedition to investigate the site further, with the stunning discovery of a dozen new skeletons.

The latest expedition provided the opportunity to recover a large, fully articulated male skeleton, which had been found last year but couldn't be recovered in the time available.

"The male skeleton is big, complete with a vertebral column and a whole hip. You can see ribs on both sides where the animal had fallen on its side. It’s quite amazing."

Diprotodons are the largest known marsupials to have ever lived, weighing up to 2,800kg. Their closest living relatives are wombats and koalas. The biggest specimens are as large as a modern-day rhino.

Traditional custodians also participated in the recovery efforts, sharing artifacts and knowledge that enriched the understanding of those who coexisted with the Diprotodons.

Dr Travouillon emphasised the importance of further research.

“We need to determine why so many Diprotodons died in one spot. Did they die over many years through migration? The recovered bones will help us with this research.”

We also found fossil evidence of crocodiles and emus in the area, which, according to Traditional Owners, are no longer common in the region today.

Rob Newton, Head of Corporate Affairs at CITIC Pacific Mining: “Our workforce has become fascinated by the story of these ancient creatures which once roamed this area – not too far away from today’s mining operations. Working closely with the Museum to unlock their secrets only builds our knowledge and respect for this special part of the world.”

Coralie Bishop, CEO of the Foundation for the WA Museum: "The relationship between the WA Museum, CITIC Pacific Mining, the Foundation for the WA Museum and the area’s Traditional Owners is highly valued and continues to deepen.

“The field trips aren’t just important in terms of the scientific insights they open up, but also in regard to the connections that are being made between Pilbara people and the region’s natural heritage.”

For more information, visit WA Museum and CITIC Pacific Mining.

About CITIC Pacific Mining

CITIC Pacific Mining’s Sino Iron operation is located near Cape Preston in Western Australia, 100km south of Karratha. It’s here that magnetite iron ore is mined and then processed into high-quality Cape Preston Concentrate that is exported from a nearby purpose-built port. For more information, please visit

About WA Museum

The Western Australian Museum is the State’s premier cultural organisation, housing WA’s scientific and cultural collection. For over 130 years the Museum has been making the State's natural and social heritage accessible and engaging through research, exhibitions and public programs. Today, the Museum has seven public locations across our State – and a Collections and Research Centre that houses more than eight million objects.

For more information, visit

About the Foundation for the WA Museum

The Foundation for the WA Museum aims to increase the cultural, scientific, educational and social impact of the Western Australian Museum and help secure its long-term financial sustainability. The Foundation does this by growing the funds under management in its Discovery Endowment Fund; obtaining direct funding support for specific WA Museum projects; and setting up a program of sustainable, regular grant giving that supports the strategic priorities of the WA Museum. The Foundation for the Western Australian Museum also is the producer of the science communication competition FameLab Australia.

For more information, visit or call (08) 6552 7474