The NSW Government today announced the NSW State Fossil emblem, the 370-million-year-old fish fossil with the scientific name Mandageria Fairfaxi, has been nicknamed Fred following a state-wide competition.
Deputy Premier and Minister for the Arts Troy Grant said the name honours Fred Fewings, a council worker who recovered the scientifically important fossil slabs in Canowindra in the state’s Central West in 1993.
“Mr Fewings still lives in the region and nicknaming our official state fossil emblem after him recognises his contribution to our unique geological history,” Mr Grant said.
“I would like to acknowledge and congratulate the two entrants who submitted the name Fred – Maggie Teasdale, a Year 5 student of Maitland Public School, and teacher Kristy White’s Year 3 class from Canowindra Public School.”
Maggie Teasdale and Kristy White’s class will each receive a 3D-printed model of Fred, a commemorative poster and a book on fossils.
Fred was a large, air-breathing lobe-finned fish that grew up to 1.7 metres in length.
Minister for Industry, Resources and Energy, Anthony Roberts, said the NSW Government declared Fred the official State Fossil Emblem in August following consultation by the Geological Survey of NSW with paleontological experts, cultural associations and institutions.
“The Division of Resources and Energy received 125 entries from primary school students across the state,” Mr Roberts said.
“I would like to thank each and every student who submitted a suggested name.
“Their enthusiasm for Fred and for the state’s geological history was fantastic.”
Member for Orange, Andrew Gee, said the Canowindra community has been vocal in its support of the name and the significance of the fossil to the region.
“I’m very proud local students have played a role in nicknaming the NSW State Fossil and I congratulate Canowindra Public School’s Year 3 Class. When I met with Ms White and the students, they couldn’t contain their excitement about their success,” Mr Gee said.
“Canowindra has a reputation as one of the best destinations for paleontology enthusiasts in the world and by highlighting our unique geological history we are boosting geo-tourism right across regional NSW.
“Fred is now a tourist beacon for the Canowindra region, having found his home at the Age of Fishes Museum, which counts Sir David Attenborough amongst its visitors.”
Mandageria Fairfaxi, named after a local creek and commemorating the contribution of publisher James Fairfax in supporting research into the fossil fish, is unique to NSW. It featured a movable neck that marked a critical stage in vertebrate evolution.