Antoni Camozzato, a year 10 student from the city, has uncovered ancient remains of a giant flightless bird from the central Australian desert in an outback field excursion.
Annually, a city and rural student is captivated by the magic of fossil hunting, and spurred on to seek out careers in paleontology as they spend days digging as part of the James Moore Memorial Prize in Palaeontology.
This year the expedition led them to the Alcoota megafauna fossil site, 250km north east of Alice Springs - with last year's winner along for the ride.
"The feeling of bringing the ancient remains of long-gone beasts into the light for the first time in 6-to-8 million years is almost indescribable," Mr Camozzato said.
"The first fossil I pulled from the ground, the tibia of an Ilbandornis woodburnei (giant flightless bird), was especially special, even if it was a bit fragmented.
"I just loved being in the central Australian desert, looking over the Mitchell grass plains, following dry riverbeds and sitting under the breathtaking night sky."
Rural school prize winner Laluloy Bucar, a Year 11 student at Edward John Eyre High School in Whyalla, says she is excited by palaeontology's analysis and investigation of early life, the environment and geological events.
While she plans on pursuing a career in medicine, she said the experience has influenced her study and career plans.
"Without palaeontology, we would only have a narrow mindset to fix such issues. Sometimes we must look to the past to find our answers," she said.
"It gives us a greater understanding of Earth's history, which is vital to fixing in global issues such as global warming and climate change and its impact on Earth's biodiversity and physical environment.
"I still want to continue my career pathway towards medicine, but I feel a gravitational interest in palaeontology. So much so that I am taking geography this semester."
"The experience I had in Alcoota, learning about Australian megafauna and identifying what bones belonged to which animal, was exhausting, gratifying and fulfilling."
The students' participation in the Alcoota excursion has encouraged them to continue palaeontology studies.
"My intention to follow palaeontology as a career is now even stronger," Mr Camozzato said.
"I hope to remain involved with Flinders University Palaeo Society and eventually study palaeontology at Flinders University in a few years' time."
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