Ediacara Hills

Ediacara Hills /dˈækərə/ are a range of low hills in the northern part of the Flinders Ranges of South Australia, around 650 kilometres (400 mi) north of the state capital of Adelaide. The hills are known for being the location of significant fossils, and have given their name to the geological period known as the Ediacaran.

Fossil Spriggina; one of the many fossils found at the Ediacara Hills


The area has many old copper and silver mines from mining activity during the late 19th century. The hills also contain fossils of early multicellular life forms, the Ediacaran biota (lagerstätte), and have given their name to the Ediacaran.[1][2]

There are two separate fossil sites within the region which have heritage protection: The Ediacara Fossil Site – Nilpena is listed on the Australian National Heritage List, while the Ediacara Fossil Reserve Palaeontological Site which is located 20 kilometres (12 mi) to its north is listed on the South Australian Heritage Register.[3][4]

There is a settlement named Ediacara in the Ediacara Hills region, but it is small.[citation needed] Due to the placement of the hills with respect to the Goyder Line, there is not much surface water and limited ground water.[clarification needed]

Word originEdit

The name "Ediacara" has a disputed origin from one of the Aboriginal languages near the Flinders Range area. It is first known to have been used during the middle of the 19th century.[5][6] Earlier Australian sources suggested that the "name "Ediacara" or "Idiyakra" may be derived from an Indigenous term associating it with a place near water".[7][a]

Another theory suggests that the term may be a mispronunciation of the two words "Yata Takarra", meaning hard or stony ground ("in reference to the flat Ediacara plateau of dolomite that forms the centre of the Ediacara syncline").[9] Supporting this latter contention, it has been argued that the word "has nothing in it that corresponds to any word for water in any of the local languages" and that local tradition "has it that the name meant 'granite plain', but, since there appears to be no igneous rock in the area, this could well refer to the hardness of the ground, rather than to its geological composition".[5]

However, there are a number of complications in trying to establish the origins of place names supposedly relating to Aboriginal words, and there is no definitive answer for Ediacara.[10]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ The name ‘Idiyakra’, or ‘Ediacara’, is Australian Aboriginal in origin and can be traced back to 1859 or a little earlier, when the first white pastoralists took up lands in the far north western Flinders Ranges. Its etymology links it to a place where water is or was present close by or about, either in the sense of the present or extending distantly into past wetter times. As water is synonymous with life in the harsh, arid lands of Australia, it is a fitting name for a time when the first megascopic marine animals evolved. As the records of early surveyors and State Parliamentary records show, the ending of the name sounded as a ‘kra’, ‘ker’, or ‘ka’, and hence the appropriate name of the Period is ‘Ediacaran’. — R.J.F. Jenkins (unpublished note, 2003)[8]


  1. ^ "Features, Briefing, Name change". The Times. London, UK. 27 May 2004. p. 9.
  2. ^ Hickey, Georgina; Lee, Michael (2005). "A new age begins". Nature Australia. 28 (5): 9–10. ISSN 1324-2598.
  3. ^ "Ediacara Fossil Site – Nilpena". Australian National Heritage List. Parachilna, SA, Australia: Department of the Environment. Retrieved 13 February 2016.
  4. ^ "Ediacara Fossil Reserve Palaeontological Site, Ediacara Conservation Reserve [sic]". South Australian Heritage Register. Department for Environment and Water. Retrieved 18 July 2019. – Note that National Heritage Place 24300 Ediacara Fossil Site – Nilpena is 20 km to the south.
  5. ^ a b Butcher, Andy (26 May 2004). "Re: Ediacaran". LISTSERV 16.0 - AUSTRALIAN-LINGUISTICS-L Archives. Archived from the original on 23 October 2007. Retrieved 19 July 2011.
  6. ^ "Place Details: Ediacara Fossil Site – Nilpena, Parachilna, SA, Australia". Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities. Australian Heritage Database. Commonwealth of Australia. Archived from the original on 3 June 2011. Retrieved 19 July 2011.
  7. ^ Australian Heritage Database, Place name: Ediacara Fossil Site - Nilpena, Parachilna, SA , Australia citing Knoll, A., Walter, M., Narbonne, G., & Christie-Blick, N (2004) The Ediacaran Period: A New Addition to the Geological Time Scale. Submitted on behalf of the Terminal Proterozoic Subcommission of the International Commission on Stratigraphy.
  8. ^ Knoll, Andrew; Walter, Malcolm; Narbonne, Guy; Christie-Blick, Nicholas (March 2006). "The Ediacaran Period: A new addition to the geologic time scale". Lethaia. 39 (1): 13–30, esp. 25–26. doi:10.1080/00241160500409223. ISSN 0024-1164.
  9. ^ Australian Heritage Database, Place name: Ediacara Fossil Site – Nilpena, Parachilna, SA , Australia citing a 2006 personal communication with John McEntee
  10. ^ Koolmatrie, Jacinta (17 October 2019). "Histories written in the land: a journey through Adnyamathanha Yarta". NITV. Retrieved 9 April 2022.

External linksEdit

Coordinates: 29°47′51.10″S 138°45′22.08″E / 29.7975278°S 138.7561333°E / -29.7975278; 138.7561333