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The significance of the Gogo Fauna

Ken Campbell

Research School of Earth Sciences, The Australian National University, Canberra, ACT 0200, Australia


This fauna is of Early Devonian age.  It as deposited as a fore-reef carbonate deposit in embayments in the reef system along the Canning Basin edge of the Kimberley Precambrian Massive.  Because of the quiet conditions in these embayments, the enclosing sediments frequently covered the bottom dwelling fauna.  Many of these organisms were vertebrates, and because some of them after burial wee not disturbed by preditors, they are preserved in almost three dimensions and their histological  structure is preserved in the finest detail. For this reason a large number of organisms have been described.  In most other areas the specimens are squashed flat, and the finer details are lost because of alteration.  Gogo specimens can be freed from the limestone sediment by etching with acetic acid and such features as the neural system, the vascular systems and the growth patterns of the bones can be displayed.  What is more, the techniques developed by  Professor Tim  Senden and A.J. Lemay in the School of Applied Mathematics , IAS, have enabled us to see details that were not revealed even by etching.  This includes internal structures of the braincase and the genital systems.

As examples of the quality of the preservation we refer to four recent discoveries that have hit the headlines.


Andrews, S.M., long, J.A. Ahlberg, P. Barwick, R.E. & Campbell, K.S.W. 2006 . The structure of the sarcopterygian Onychodus jamdemarrai n.sp from Gogo, Western Australia :  with a functional interpretation of the skeleton.  Transactions of the Royal Society of Edinburgh; Earth Sciences : Vol 96: 197-307  Figs 1-75.
Campbell, K.S.W. & Barwick, R.E. 2006  Morphological innovation through gene regulation from Onychodontiform fish. International Journal of Developmental Biology, Vol 50: 371-375.
Long, J.A. Trinajstic , K., Young,G.C. & Senden T, 2008. Live birth in the Devonian Period.  Nature : Vol 453: 650-652