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Prehistoric Aldabra Fossils delivered to Zurich by DHL Express for analysis

Tue, 01/16/2018 - 10:52 -- user

In December 2015 members of the Zurich-Aldabra Research Platform (ZARP) group visited Aldabra and Dr Dennis Hansen, one of the researchers, discovered several fossils including a large piece of the lower jaw of the extinct Aldabra crocodile.  

The fossils were discovered in one of the dried out pools near Cinq Case hut on Grande Terre Island. Finding fossils on Aldabra is not that unusual in itself as the atoll is known to have many fossilised tortoise bones, corals and other marine species on several of the islands, however the crocodile fossil fragment discovered that day was approximately 12 cm long, which is almost twice the size of the fragments previously reported!

Following photographic identification of some of the fossils it was crucial that the fossils would be sent to researchers at the University of Zurich, who are leading world experts in extinct crocodiles and chelonians, for further taxonomic work. The logistics of transporting biological specimens internationally can be challenging and very expensive and after reading about the find Hunt Deltel contacted the Seychelles Islands Foundation (SIF) and offered to transport the fossils from Mahé to the researchers in Zurich by DHL Express Seychelles.

In January 2017 the fossils arrived safely with no damage in Zurich and the research on them was able to begin. The work is not yet complete, however good progress is being made.  The fossils are analysed using a very small pneumatic chisel, which with great care can be used to remove the limestone matrix which covers the fossils when they are found. While researchers are working on them the fossils rest on a small sandbag to avoid exerting pressure that could make them crack. Binocular scopes and focused light are used to help guide the use of the chisel.

SIF and the researchers in Zurich are extremely grateful to DHL Express Seychelles for supporting this research by providing transport for these important finds.