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Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Batocara mitchelli chosen as ACT fossil emblem

Results are in and the ACT has its brand-new fossil emblem, after putting five choices to a public vote.

The front runner was the Batocara mitchelli with 30% of the votes, an extinct group of marine arthropods similar to scorpions and crabs, that became extinct about 250 million years ago.

Chair of the ACT Fossil Emblem organising committee, Dr Rachel Przeslawski, said Batocara mitchelli was one of the most iconic in the region.

Canberrans have voted and chosen the ACT’s first fossil emblem: Batocara mitchelli.

“The fossil voted by the public is usually only found in small fragments and not the whole specimen, but when they were drilling into the foundations of the new Treasury Building, they found a full specimen,” she said.

The ACT is the fourth Australian jurisdiction to boast its very own fossil anthem, joining New South Wales, South Australia and Western Australia.

The poll ran from 7 September to 13 October.

Dr Przeslawski said she was pleased to see 1,135 people jumped on board to vote for their favourite fossil.

“We have never done anything like this before, so it was a learning curve for us as well,” she said.

“We would have loved to see more but I think over 1,000 is pretty good when people are inundated by digital content.

“We put a lot of effort in the social media posts and making those engaging.”

When asked why people voted for the winning fossil, many people answered the trilobite was common and recognisable in the region.  

Coming in a close second with 23% of all votes was Atrypa duntroonensis, an extinct brachiopod with fossils found most commonly around what is now the Royal Military College Duntroon.

The five fossil finalists were selected by a group of geoscientists, palaeontologists and science communicators, based on how the fossils represented the ACT.

Dr Przeslawski said now the fossil emblem has been announced, it was free to be used by the general public.

“It’s going to be used in the same way as our other emblems. There is not legislation that prohibits the use so anyone can use it for their event,” she said.

“It’s a public emblem, it’s not something we want locked up. We want to use it to inspire and help to appreciate the national history.”

More information on the fossil emblem can be found online.

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