On the News | Mining turning world-renowned fossil site in China into fertiliser @ South China Morning Post

On the News @ South China Morning Post


Mining turning world-renowned fossil site in China into fertiliser


A reconstruction of one of the fossils found at the site.

“A world-renowned fossil site in China, which contains the remains of some of the earliest organisms classified as animals, has “almost been erased from the surface of the Earth” in recent months by rampant mining , according to a leading fossil scientist.

Hundreds of mining trucks are transporting rocks from the site in Wengan county in Guizhou province each day to make phosphorous, a raw material in fertiliser, according to Zhu Maoyan, a professor at the Nanjing Institute of Geology and Palaeontology.

The mining is destroying evidence of the fossilised remains of sponge-like, multi-cell organisms which are more than 600 million years old, he said.

“The 600 million years of life’s evolutionary history is being traded to help produce a bowl of rice,” said Zhu, who has studied at the site.

The early fossils were discovered in 1998 and are regularly mentioned in top research journals such as Science and Nature in articles about the origins of more sophisticated life forms.

Bacterium-like single cell organisms were found in oceans as long as 3.7 billion years ago, but multi-cell organisms such as those found at the site in southern China appeared much later. How and why this occurred remains one of the big questions in evolution.” (…) READ MORE