Young palaeontologist walks the talk

Updated - October 13, 2020 11:20 am IST

Published - October 12, 2020 11:59 pm IST - Tiruchi

Paleontologist Aswatha Biju displays a collection of fossils at an awareness meeting held in Tiruchi on Monday.

Paleontologist Aswatha Biju displays a collection of fossils at an awareness meeting held in Tiruchi on Monday.

Young palaeontologist Aswatha Biju on Monday spoke on the importance of appreciating and preserving natural history sites in the country at a meeting held here ahead of International Fossil Day (October 14).

A Chennai-based class 8 student, Ms. Aswatha started collecting fossils from the age of 5 and is considered to be among India’s youngest palaeontologists.

“I have been speaking on paleontology in schools, colleges and research institutes since I was 11, and I feel every event is a great opportunity to raise awareness of our natural wealth,” she told The Hindu .

“Most people see fossils as a waste product, and only those who appreciate pre-historic remains, want to conserve them,” she said.

Monday’s talk was more of a primer on paleontology, with Ms. Aswatha covering topics such as identification, collection and preservation of fossils, people she has worked under and how knowledge of natural history is essential to protect the environment.

With the easing of lockdown, she has been able to resume field trips to natural history sites in the State.

“I usually travel and do research work during my holidays,” said Ms. Aswatha.

The school student hopes to celebrate Fossil Day this year with an awareness talk at National Fossil Wood Park, a recognised geo-heritage monument located in Sathanur, Perambalur district.

“We do not have TV set at home, so I have plenty of time to balance my school studies with palaeontology research,” she said.

Organised by Tiruchi Notaphily Society in collaboration with Government Museum, the event included a small display of 50-60 fossil samples sourced from places such as Ariyalur, Perambalur and Chennai.

Since public admission was restricted due to lockdown regulations, the event was attended by local fossil collectors.

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