Himachal's geo park to showcase fossils

Himachal's geo park to showcase fossils

This picturesque town, some 50 km from Chandigarh, was in the news three years ago when a 25-million year-old rock fossil of a palm tree was discovered by geologists.
“The Geo Heritage Museum, based on the National Museum of Natural History in Washington, will display fossils of plants, animals and minerals. It will also exhibit rocks and ores,” said P.C. Sharma, officer in-charge of the National History Museum in Chandigarh.

He said diverse assemblage of flora and fauna was excavated in and around Kasauli hills, located in the Shivaliks.

“The fossils discovered hold testimony to the fact that Kasauli hills were once inhabited by a large number of apes, tigers, elephants, hippos, giraffes, crocodiles and land tortoises,” Sharma added.

A 25-million year-old rock fossil of a palm tree was discovered at Jagjitnagar near here in 2008. The five-foot-tall and three-foot-wide tree fossil was standing on a rock.
According to geologists, it's for the first time in the history of the Himalayas that such a big palm wood rock fossil has been found.

Since shifting the wood rock fossil to some other place was not possible, the Geological Survey of India has preserved it where it was discovered.

Experts said about 25 million years ago, flash floods buried the palm tree trunk, leading to its petrification - a process of fossilisation in which dissolved minerals replace organic matter.

For setting up the geo heritage park, the state tourism department has tied up with the Chandigarh Natural History Museum.

Tourism Director Arun Sharma told IANS that the Chandigarh museum would provide technical assistance to set up the park.

He said Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal would lay the foundation of the heritage museum Monday that would open for public by 2013.

The museum would also display models of extinct animals like the grand elephant Stegodon Ganesha Sivatherium, a hippopotamus with six incisors and the giant land tortoise Colossochelys Atlas.

The Kasauli park would be the second fossil park in the state.The Suketi Fossil Park near Nahan town in Sirmaur district is the first such park in the state that displays six life-size fiberglass models of pre-historic animals whose fossils and skeletons were unearthed at the site.

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