Prehistoric Australasia

Visions of Evolution and Extinction

April 2023
More details
  • Publisher
    CSIRO Publishing
  • Published
    11th April 2023
  • ISBN 9780643108059
  • Language English
  • Pages 264 pp.
  • Size 7" x 10"
  • Images 110 color illustrations, 27 maps

For most of the past 300 million years, the world’s continents were interlinked as the supercontinents Pangaea and then Gondwana. Around 50 million years ago, Australia tore itself free from Antarctica to become the huge, splendidly isolated island it is today. Over time, its creatures began to evolve in ways not seen anywhere else on Earth, with tree-climbing crocodiles, gigantic venomous lizards, walking omnivorous bats and flesh-eating kangaroos roaming the continent.

Prehistoric Australasia: Visions of Evolution and Extinction presents some of the most extraordinary creatures the world has ever seen – all unique to Australia, New Guinea, New Zealand and their surrounding islands.

Over 100 meticulously painted panoramas by palaeoartist Peter Schouten are accompanied by descriptions of the unique environments and features of these animals, written by four of Australia’s foremost palaeontologists. This book explores the nature and timing of extinction events in the Southern Hemisphere, considers whether some of these losses might be able to be reversed, and how we can use the fossil record to help save today’s critically endangered species. Through stunning artwork and fascinating text, Prehistoric Australasia brings this globally unique transformation over time to glorious, colorful life.


  • Offers fascinating glimpses into the prehistoric past of Australia, New Zealand and New Guinea.
  • More than 100 paintings showcasing the changing biotas of Australasia over the last 3.6 billion years.
  • Reveals the unique features of prehistoric animals and the environments where they lived.


Pilbara, Western Australia (Archaean)
Ediacaran Hills, South Australia (Ediacaran)
Emu Bay, South Australia (Cambrian)
Stairway Sandstone, Northern Territory (Ordovician)
Baragwanathia flora, Victoria (Silurian/Devonian)
Evolution of early vertebrates
Burrinjuck, New South Wales (Devonian)
Georgina Basin, Queensland (Devonian)
Gogo, Scene 1, Western Australia (Devonian)
Gogo, Scene 2, Western Australia (Devonian)
Canowindra, Scene 1, New South Wales (Devonian)
Canowindra, Scene 2, New South Wales (Devonian)
Mansfield, Victoria (Devonian/Carboniferous)
Ducabrook Formation, Queensland (Carboniferous)
Blackwater Shale, Queensland (Permian)
Blina Shale, Western Australia (Triassic)
Knocklofty Formation, Tasmania (Triassic)
Arcadia Formation, Scene 1, Queensland (Triassic)
Arcadia Formation, Scene 2, Queensland (Triassic)
Hanson Formation, Antarctica (Jurassic)
Talbragar, New South Wales (Jurassic)
Evolution of the tetrapod forelimb
Broome Sandstone, Western Australia (Cretaceous)
Strzelecki, Victoria (Cretaceous)
Bulldog Shale, South Australia (Cretaceous)
Otway, Scene 1, Victoria (Cretaceous)
Otway, Scene 2, Victoria (Cretaceous)
Toolebuc Formation, Scene 1, Queensland (Cretaceous)
Toolebuc Formation, Scene 2, Queensland (Cretaceous)
Toolebuc Formation, Scene 3, Queensland (Cretaceous)
Winton Formation, Scene 1, Queensland (Cretaceous)
Winton Formation, Scene 2, Queensland (Cretaceous)
Winton Formation, Scene 3, Queensland (Cretaceous)
Lightning Ridge, New South Wales (Cretaceous)
Mackunda Formation, Queensland (Cretaceous)
Mangahouanga, New Zealand (Cretaceous)
Waipara River, New Zealand (Cretaceous)
Haumuri Bluff, New Zealand (Cretaceous)
Tingamarra, Scene 1, Queensland (Eocene)
Tingamarra, Scene 2, Queensland (Eocene)
Tingamarra, Scene 3, Queensland (Eocene)
Duntroon, New Zealand (Oligocene)
Jan Juc Formation, Victoria (Oligocene)
Ditjimanka Local Fauna, Scene 1, South Australia (Oligocene)
Ditjimanka Local Fauna, Scene 2, South Australia (Oligocene)
Riversleigh, Scene 1, Queensland (Oligocene)
Pinpa Local Fauna, South Australia (Oligocene)
Ericmas Local Fauna, South Australia (Oligocene)
Riversleigh, Scene 2, Queensland (Oligocene)
Riversleigh, Scene 3, Queensland (Oligocene)
Riversleigh, Scene 4, Queensland (Oligocene)
Wynyard Local Fauna, Tasmania (Miocene)
Kutjamarpu Local Fauna, South Australia (Miocene)
Riversleigh, Scene 5, Queensland (early Miocene)
Riversleigh, Scene 6, Queensland (early Miocene)
Riversleigh, Scene 7, Queensland (early Miocene)
Riversleigh, Scene 8, Queensland (early Miocene)
St Bathans, Scene 1, New Zealand (Miocene)
St Bathans, Scene 2, New Zealand (Miocene)
St Bathans, Scene 3, New Zealand (Miocene)
Riversleigh, Scene 9, Queensland (middle Miocene)
Riversleigh, Scene 10, Queensland (middle Miocene)
Bullock Creek, Northern Territory (Miocene)
Riversleigh, Scene 11, Queensland (late Miocene)
Alcoota, Scene 1, Northern Territory (Miocene)
Alcoota, Scene 2, Northern Territory (Miocene)
Beaumaris, Victoria (Miocene)
Awe, Papua New Guinea (Pliocene)
Chinchilla, Queensland (Pliocene)
Kanunka, Scene 1, South Australia (Pleistocene)
Kanunka, Scene 2, South Australia (Pleistocene)
Bunyip Cave, Victoria (Pleistocene)
Eastern Darling Downs, Scene 1, Queensland (Pleistocene)
Eastern Darling Downs, Scene 2, Queensland (Pleistocene)
Wellington Caves, Scene 1, New South Wales (Pleistocene)
Wellington Caves, Scene 2, New South Wales (Pleistocene)
Wellington Caves, Scene 3, New South Wales (Pleistocene)
The giant lizard Megalania, eastern Australia (Pleistocene)
Thylacoleo Caves, Western Australia (Pleistocene)
Naracoorte Caves, Scene 1, South Australia (Pleistocene)
Naracoorte Caves, Scene 2, South Australia (Pleistocene)
Texas Caves, Scene 1, Queensland (Pleistocene)
Texas Caves, Scene 2, Queensland (Pleistocene)
Lord Howe Island meiolaniid turtle (Pleistocene/Holocene)
Mammoth Cave, Western Australia (Pleistocene)
Mowbray, Victoria (Pleistocene)
Callabonna, South Australia (Pleistocene)
Wyandotte Station, Queensland (Pleistocene)
Pureni, Papua New Guinea (Pleistocene)
Riversleigh, Scene 12, Queensland (Pleistocene)
Kelangurr Cave, Irian Jaya (Pleistocene)
Nombe Rock Shelter, Papua New Guinea (Pleistocene)
South Island moa, New Zealand (Pleistocene/Holocene)
South Island adzebill, New Zealand (Pleistocene/Holocene)
Volivoli Cave, Fiji (Pleistocene/Holocene)
Tongoleleka, Tonga (Holocene)
Chatham Islands, New Zealand (Holocene)
North Island, Scene 1, New Zealand (Holocene)
North Island, Scene 2, New Zealand (Holocene)
New Caledonia’s giant megapode (Holocene)
Canterbury Plains, New Zealand (Holocene)
New Zealand giant eagle (Holocene)
Pindai Cave, New Caledonia (Holocene)
South Island goose, New Zealand (Holocene)


Michael Archer

Michael Archer, Professor at UNSW Sydney, is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science and other societies, a Member of the Order of Australia and a recipient of many awards including the Romer-Simpson Medal of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology. He has authored over 400 scientific publications.

Suzanne J. Hand

Suzanne J. Hand, Emeritus Professor at UNSW Sydney, has described more than 125 new fossil taxa. She is a Fellow of the Royal Zoological Society of New South Wales and the Royal Society of New South Wales.

John Long

John Long is Strategic Professor in Palaeontology at Flinders University, and the author of many scientific publications as well as popular and scientific books. In 2020 he was awarded the Bettison and James Award for lifetime achievement for contributions to scientific research and science communication. He is also the co-author of Frozen in Time: Prehistoric Life in Antarctica.

Trevor H. Worthy

Trevor H. Worthy, Associate Professor at Flinders University, is a global authority on fossil birds, an Elected Corresponding Fellow of the American Ornithologists’ Union, was awarded the D.L. Serventy Medal (BirdLife Australia), and has published over 260 scientific publications and described over 90 fossil species.

Peter Schouten

Peter Schouten is a wildlife illustrator and palaeoartist who has co-authored or illustrated many popular and scientific books over the past 50 years. He is a Member of the Order of Australia and a Fellow of the Royal Society of New South Wales. He is also the illustrator of Gliding Mammals of the World.

dinosaurs, megafauna, Australasia