Australia Zoo's Robert Irwin, 11, loves fossils and is a budding palaeontolgoist.
Australia Zoo's Robert Irwin, 11, loves fossils and is a budding palaeontolgoist. Ben Beaden/Australia Zoo

Robert Irwin's passion for paleontology

LIKE lots of kids, Robert Irwin is interested in dinosaurs.

Unlike most kids, Robert can lay claim to digging up a fossil from a species never before discovered in Australia.

Robert, 11, found a jaw from an Icthyodectiformes fish during a dig outside of Richmond, halfway between Mackay and Mount Isa, two years ago.

He made the find in shallow shale 14km out of town after tuition from a palaeontologist about techniques and the best spots to dig.

The fossil has been donated to Kronosaurus Korner, a museum in Richmond dedicated to fossils from the inland sea that covered that area 120 million years ago.

But the budding palaeontologist has plenty more at home, including a sabre tooth cat skull, 145 million-year-old crocodile teeth, and an egg from a hadrosaur, one of the duck-billed dinosaurs.

His favourite dinosaur is the Austrolovenator wintonensis, a beast which grew up to 5m long and 500kg, with 30cm long claws and a top speed of 30kmh.

"This is easily my favourite dinosaur and I have always thought it would be pretty incredible to see one... from a good distance away!"

Robert said his interest in pre-history began when he was taken to a museum in Paris at age two.

"The museum over there has heaps of different fossils and as a little two-year-old, I spent the entire day in awe of the specimens they had," he said.

"From that day on, I have wanted to learn more about natural history, and to this day, I am still just as passionate, if not more!"

Robert said he was interested in how the fossils related to wildlife in the world today.

"To be able to find out more about their evolution and how they came to be fascinates me," he said.

Robert has not ruled out becoming a palaeontologist one day but whether or not he does, he will still pursue his interest.

Not surprisingly, he has seen all of the Jurassic Park movies, including the latest, Jurassic World.

He has put part of his own personal fossil collection on display as Australia Zoo goes dinosaur crazy these holidays.

The holiday offerings include a dinosaur hunt, a dinosaur colouring-in competition, and screenings of the original Jurassic Park movie in the Crocoseum daily at 1pm.