How the toe of SA’s only dinosaur has turned up after 45 years
When Coober Pedy resident Joy Kloester dipped her toe in the water of the fossil trade, she got much more than she bargained for.
She won the auction bid for an opalised toe bone that turned out to be the long-lost prized specimen from SA's only known dinosaur, Kakuru kujani - one of only three bones known to science.
Kakuru was a turkey-sized carnivorous dinosaur, possibly about 1-2m in length, that lived 110 million years ago.
The opalised toe bone was unearthed in the early 1970s at Andamooka and spotted by then SA Museum curator of fossils Neville Pledge at an opal shop on Hindley Street.
Mr Pledge was able to take some photos, measurements and make a few plaster casts of the tone bone in 1973.
"Unfortunately, not long after I saw the bone it was sold and disappeared from public knowledge for 45 years," Mr Pledge said.
Ms Kloester says her "fantastic" story shows opportunities do come around twice.
"I've always loved opal, so basically I just started looking at Grays Online, I really didn't know what I was buying," she said.
"I came across this collection from a liquidation sale in Sydney and bid on the bone and seashells as well, no jewellery, all fossils.
"I didn't realise the significance and had it sitting in my cupboard for a couple of months."
Then she asked opal buyers Tania and Dale Price for advice and they put her in contact with the SA Museum, which has now put the specimen on display for all to see.