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A treasure trove for fossil enthusiasts

P. Dayanandan displays a fossil found in the Gunduperumbedu village. Photo: K.V.Srinivasan  

P. Oppili

Heritage status sought for the site

They are believed to have been formed several million years agoThe exposures are found from Orissa to Ramanathapuram

CHENNAI: The Tambaram-Sriperumbudur stretch is a treasure trove for fossil enthusiasts. A huge deposit of fossils is waiting to be uncovered in a few villages here, say researchers who want the stretch declared a `heritage site.'

According to P. Dayanandan, former head of the Botany department at Madras Christian College and a fossil researcher, Robert Bruce Foote located the fossils in Tamil Nadu in 1868. Later, researcher Feistmantel conducted a study.

These fossils were found in a place popularly known as the "Sriperumbudur bed" that comprises parts of Gunduperumbedu, Manimangalam, Mosur, Vallam, Kaavanur and Poonamallee villages. Called "outcrops," the fossils were formed several million years ago. Dr. Dayanandan says the fossil remains indicate that about 150 million years ago there were hardly any flowering plants here.

The dominant groups were conifers and cycads. These fossils were formed thanks to sedimentation, resulting in what was known as shales. The exposures were found along the east coast from Orissa in the north to Ramanathapuram in south.

He says Gunduperumbedu village children are collecting the fossils and keeping them at home. The Government should intervene to protect the place, as, apart from the fossils, petrifaction (a fossilisation process) is also found in the village, he adds.

Similarly, the district administration should set up a centre here to conduct awareness programmes on the fossils.