The Fossil-Hunting Expedition Begins

Emily Hughes brings us tales of adventure and discovery from the Australian Outback as she and her mother search for unbelievably ancient fossils. This is her debut blog post.

This is an image of the landscape view from our house. (Photo Creds: Mary Droser)
This is an image of the landscape view from our house. (Photo by Mary Droser)

My name is Emily Bronwyn Hughes, and I have spent 13 summers of my life growing up in dirt. This dirt being, of course, the Australian Outback.

I am a sixteen-year-old adventurer, photographer, writer, and lover of amazing places. The Aussie Outback amazes me, as it has been doing for 13 years. I’m hoping that through this blog, it will come to amaze you too.

My mom is a paleontologist who works on the fossils embedded in these Australian rocks. The Outback isn’t just a good place to explore, it contains a ton of information about the earliest animals on the planet: the Ediacaran biota. Our mission as a team is to excavate, document, understand and preserve the intriguing fossils that can be found on the Outback rocks.

We have just arrived in the major Australian city of Adelaide, where we annually spend thousands of dollars on food to last us a few months. Tomorrow, we will begin the eight-hour drive to the station housing the mysterious fossil creatures to which we devote our summers.

The nearest town is an hour’s drive away. We take showers as rarely as possible, we have limited cell phone service, dodgy internet, no TV and no dishwasher. And to be honest, these months are the best of our lives.

The purpose of this blog is to show what it is like to spend summer working on the earliest animals on the planet, and even the lives outside the science that we lead here. It’s to show the science behind what we do here, all from the perspective of one of the youngest members of the team. It’s to give you an understanding of the impossible beauty of the Australian Outback, and how it contains science, mystery, and absolutely astonishing adventure.

This is the trailer that we drag behind our car on the 8 hour drive to the outback. (Photo Creds: Emily Hughes)
This is the trailer that we drag behind our car on the eight-hour drive to the Outback. (Photo by Emily Hughes)

Read More by Emily Hughes


  1. Clare Bradley
    July 1, 2014, 9:32 pm

    Can’t wait to join you all up there – keep up the good work getting the word out – one small step for a savvy teenager, a giant leap for the knowledge of man

  2. Elena Cisneros
    Eastvale, CA
    June 30, 2014, 9:50 pm

    I remember you wrote a poem as a young child and it started off something like “When I am in Australia, the world is my back yard.” Show us the world Emily. Have a beautiful journey.
    Ms. Elena Cisneros

  3. Itzel Crusoe
    June 25, 2014, 9:52 pm

    Emily, I love you. I’m so excited for all of your endeavors. Write on!

  4. Laurie Graham
    June 25, 2014, 11:38 am

    Emily love your blog I look forward to your adventures now I can get more understanding on what it takes for your team to get all of the fossils.


  5. Judy & Charlie Tuttle
    Boston, Ma
    June 25, 2014, 9:13 am

    You know we love you and will follow you anywhere! Even from beautiful downtown Dorchester(Dauchestah)

  6. Debahuti Mukherjee
    Kolkata, India
    June 25, 2014, 1:28 am

    What an wonderful post! It feels great to see the enthusiasm and excitement. Keep posting, i’d like to know more about this! My good wishes for the team!

  7. Dave Wrinkle
    Riverside, California
    June 25, 2014, 12:23 am

    I can’t wait to follow your blog! The work you and your team are carrying out is not only fascinating, it is crucial for filling in a huge gap in our understanding of the evolution of life on earth. The remoteness of the region in which you toil only adds to the romance of your undertaking!

  8. Avika
    June 24, 2014, 11:53 pm

    This is absolutely amazing! You are so talented and I can’t wait to learn more about the earliest organisms on our planet.

  9. Wendy Martinez
    Riverside, ca
    June 24, 2014, 11:48 pm

    So glad you are doing this Emily. I will be patiently awaiting your next blog.

  10. Jacki Croy
    Riverside Ca
    June 24, 2014, 8:39 pm

    Keep posting Emily!! David and I will continue to follow your blog! What an amazing summer you will have and through your blog we hope to learn so much about your fossil hunting. David from RAA.