“No two springs are the same. They all have their individual quirks,” says ecologist Rob Wager, as he casts about for signs of Australia’s smallest freshwater fish.
It is just before dawn at Edgbaston Reserve, central-western Queensland, and Wager is standing barefoot and ankle-deep in a small fenced area known as Type Locality Spring. It’s here that the first officially described specimen of red-finned blue-eye (Scaturiginichthys vermeilipinnis) was collected in 1990. The air is alive with the mewling and scraping of frogs, and as the sun crests the horizon it catches in the native grasses of the wetland’s sodden soils.
Scientists estimate that the water bubbling up at Type Locality Spring is completing a two-million-year cycle through the Great Artesian Basin. This “dinosaur water” emerges at the spring’s head at a balmy 24 degrees Celsius, year round....
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