On the News | ‘Focus on preserving Ariyalur fossils’ @ The Hindu

On the News @ The Hindu


‘Focus on preserving Ariyalur fossils’


Image Credit: R.M. Rajarathinam (The Hindu)

“Claiming that the present Ariyalur and surrounding regions were under the sea roughly 60 million to 145 million years ago, Nirmal Rajah, a palaeontologist working as Educational Coordinator at Mleiha Archaeological Centre in the United Arab Emirates, urged the government to focus on preserving the treasure trove of fossils found in the region.

“The region is a heaven for palaeontologists like me. Successive transgression and regressions of the ocean millions of years ago have luckily deposited fossil sediments of a variety of organisms that lived in the Cretaceous era,” he said, speaking to media after a session organised by Young Indians (Madurai Chapter) here on Sunday.

Though no excavations were formally carried out by the government to unearth the fossils, what has helped enthusiasts like Mr. Rajah are the mines dug by Tamil Nadu Cements Corporation in the region. “You can find hundreds and hundreds of fossil sediments of now-extinct species such as ammonites and belemnites,” said Mr. Rajah, who was also part of the team that made a documentary, titled ‘Unearthing the treasures of Ariyalur’, last year. He said though a small museum was being built by the government in Ariyalur to showcase some of these fossils, it would be grossly inadequate. Highlighting that people here accorded more importance to archaeology, which dealt with relatively recent history, than to palaeontology, Mr. Rajah attributed it mainly to lack of understanding of its importance and the excitement involved. “For instance, palaeontology is crucial for climate modelling, which will, in turn, help us address our present crisis of global warming,” he said.” (…) READ MORE

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