Tiruchirapalli

Researcher gifts fossils for Perambalur museum project

Paleontologist and researcher Nirmal Rajah explaining the features of ammonite fossils at a press meet in Perambalur along with Collector Sri Venkada Priya.

Paleontologist and researcher Nirmal Rajah explaining the features of ammonite fossils at a press meet in Perambalur along with Collector Sri Venkada Priya.

District officials working on the upcoming ammonites museum and learning centre in Perambalur district recently received timeless gifts of marine fossils from an Indian palaeontologist-cum-researcher based in the United Arab Emirates.

R. Nirmal Rajah, who works for Mleiha Archaeological Centre in Sharjah, presented fossils of five ammonites (shelled cephalopods that died out about 66 million years ago) from Madagascar, a trilobite (an extinct marine arthropod) from Bolivia and a shark tooth from Perambalur to Collector Sri Venkada Priya on Sunday.

“I have been interested in archaeology from my student days, and have often visited Ariyalur and Perambalur with friends from the geology department of National College to explore the badlands. I decided to gift the fossils to the museum from my collection as my small contribution to increasing awareness of the region’s rich natural history,” Mr. Rajah told The Hindu.

He said Perambalur’s ammonite museum would help to change the perception of the local public towards prehistory. There are multiple sites in Perambalur and Ariyalur, where one can find fossils of gastropods, bivalves, ammonites and nautiluses, with remains of an 80 million-year-old ecosystem preserved in rocks, lying around. The Karai-Kolakkanatham badlands were an excellent example of what a deep sea would have looked like. These areas could be fenced off and maintained as geo-heritage museums for both research and tourism.

The ammonite museum and learning centre would be situated inside the Taluk office complex in Perambalur and likely to be ready within a year.

“The institution has the potential to become a landmark achievement in the study and preservation of ammonites in India,” said Mr. Rajah.

Mr. Rajah, who is from Dindigul, was featured along with his friend Anurag Amin in the 2015 documentary Unearthing the treasures of Ariyalur.

He is also the author of the 2021 Tamil novel Troodon — Oru Dinosaurin Paadugal, published by Ariviyal Palagai, the Tamil section of Vigyan Prasar that functions under the  Department of Science and Technology. Its protagonist is a troodon, a small bird-like dinosaur, that lived in Ariyalur.

“The story is about the troodon’s survival through the end of the cretaceous period. I wrote it after a team of U.K.-based researchers discovered a tooth of the troodontid dinosaur in Ariyalur; until then it was known only North America and North Asia,” said Mr. Rajah.


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Printable version | Jun 24, 2022 7:55:36 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Tiruchirapalli/researcher-gifts-fossils-for-perambalur-museum-project/article65400829.ece