Rock on

fossils

Fossil collector Dr Allen O’Grady, of Eatons Hill Veterinary Surgery in Queensland, has adorned his practice with dinosaur bones.

“On the front patio of my home is a hind limb bone of a brachiosaurus, one of the biggest dinosaurs that ever lived. It stands about three metres tall and weighs a couple of hundred kilos.

“At present, I’m waiting on the arrival of a triceratops skull. Originally from North America, experts in Melbourne have spent the past seven years restoring it. It fossilised flat but will be reassembled into a three-dimensional frame. It stands about three metres tall and will be the only triceratops skull in private hands in Australia. It took some time to convince my wife but it’s going to be on display in the kitchen.

“My fascination with fossils started when I was eight years old and Vita Brits brought out collector cards of dinosaurs. My parents bought me the albums to store the cards and I collected them all. I still have those albums today.

“A few years later, a geologist gave me a couple of snail-like fossils from a dig. Soon after that, I went to a few rock shows, discovered fossils for sale, started collecting and it just got bigger and bigger.

“I’ve been fortunate to go on a few digs in Australia and overseas. I went to Morocco for a couple of weeks where we dug at various sites and brought back a lot of great fossils. I’ve also been on a dig at Gascoyne Junction in the northern part of Western Australia collecting marine crinoids.

“One of my favourite pieces is a slab of rock containing four oreodont skeletons. They fell into a bog about 35 million years ago and died. I also have a nicely preserved ichthyosaur, a baby psittacosaurus just hatched from an egg and other dinosaur eggs, some containing embryos.

“My practice has become a bit of an icon in the suburb of Eatons Hill. Out front is a full-sized model of a T-rex and there are a couple of velociraptors mounted over our sign. There’s a pterosaur on the roof along with an oviraptor sitting on its nest of eggs. The grounds are planted with prehistoric-looking cycads and at night, it’s lit up with different coloured lights. We’ve even had a couple of weddings take place in front of the T-rex.

“I find fossils fascinating and intriguing. They allow you to look at animals that have been extinct for millions of years and imagine how they lived and the world in which they roamed. It’s a fascinating way to experience deep time.”

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