Xstrata Mt Isa has been awarded the Riversleigh Society Medal for its support of fossil research.
It was presented the award for its financial support of the work carried out by University of New South Wales professor Mike Archer, who uncovered nearly 80% of a diprotodon skeleton, which is the largest marsupial to ever exist, according to the North West Star.
The Riversleigh Medal is given for ‘excellence in promoting understanding of Australian Prehistory’, and has previously been awarded to the likes of David Attenborough.
It is the first time an organisation has won the award.
Paleontologist Mike Archer is better known for his attempts to initiate the cloning of the extinct Tasmanian Tiger.
University of NSW paleontologist Henk Godthelp said without Xstrata’s support, the fossils in Queensland’s North West may never be found.
"Government funding is dwindling and if groups like Xstrata didn’t pitch in there would be no funding to conduct fossil digs and do further research," Godthelp said.
"Their funding is crucial to uncovering the past and discovering new species like the diprotodon."
Since 2008, Xstrata contributed approximately $360 000 to the university’s research through its Community Partnership Program.
Image: Diprotodon skeleton.