The exploration of the coast of Western Australia by English and French explorers in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries led to the first recorded discoveries of fossiliferous rocks in Western Australia. The first forty years of exploration and discovery of fossil sites in the State was restricted entirely to the coast of the Continent. Following the establishment of permanent settlements in the 1820s the first of the inland fossil localities were located in the 1830s, north of Albany, and north of Perth. As new land was surveyed; particularly north of Perth, principally by the Gregory brothers in the 1840s and 1850s, Palaeozoic rocks were discovered in the Perth and Carnarvon Basins. F.T. Gregory in particular developed a keen interest in the geology of the State to such an extent that he was able, at a meeting of the Geological Society of London in 1861, to present not only a geological map of part of the State, but also a suite of fossils which showed the existence of Permian and Hesozoic strata. The entire history of nineteenth century palaeontology in Western Australia was one of discovery and collection of specimens. These were studied initially by overseas naturalists, but latterly, in the 1890s by Etheridge at The Australian Museum in Sydney. Sufficient specimens had been collected and described by the turn of the century that the basic outline of the Phanerozoic geology of the sedimentary basins was reasonably well known.

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