The lush plains of the Limestone Coast in eastern South Australia conceal hundreds of underground tunnels and caverns. For millions of years, the ebb and flow of water from past ice ages has slowly carved out caves and sinkholes in the soft rocks, leaving behind a geological wonderland.

Today, brave humans explore these caves for fun. Tens of thousands of years ago, animals used them to shelter from the elements. This part of Australia was once home to many megafauna species – large wombat-like creatures, prehistoric kangaroo relatives with stumpy faces, and even marsupial lions. Now, all that remains of them are fossil bones.

Underwater caves are a fantastic place for preserving these fossils. Undisturbed by the elements, the remains are a treasure trove for the scientists who investigate why the megafauna went extinct. But these fossils are in deep caves. Underwater. Reaching them is not for the faint-hearted.

This is why palaeontologists from Griffith University teamed up with expert cave divers who have been exploring the region for decades. The result is a unique scientific collaboration that’s pushing the limits of the field. In collaboration with researchers Meg Walker, Joseph Monks and Julien Louys, our editorial web developer Matt Garrow has produced an immersive interactive feature that lets you take part in this incredible journey. Enjoy.

P.S. Next month our Editor Misha Ketchell will head to the Bob Hawke Prime Ministerial Centre in Adelaide to host a panel discussion, Democracy in Peril, that will explore some of the issues created by our infected information ecosystem. Featuring Monica Attard (UTS), Emma Shortis (RMIT) and Priya Chacko (University of Adelaide), the panel will explore the forces that, for good or ill, are reshaping modern democracies, especially in a year when more than 50% of the world’s population will be voting in elections. It’s on May 9 and you can attend in person or online, so why not register here.

Signe Dean

Science + Technology Editor


Diving through time: South Australia's flooded caves hide a rich megafauna history

Meg Walker, Joseph Monks and Julien Louys, The Conversation

In this interactive story scientists have teamed up with cave divers on a unique mission to retrieve fossils of extinct Australian megafauna.

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