Unleashing Curiosity, Igniting Discovery - The Science Fusion

The Madygen formation is without doubt one of the world’s richest Triassic fossil beds – however few individuals have heard of it.


Round 235 million years in the past, in what’s now central Asia, a small reptile fell right into a freshwater lake and settled within the delicate mud on the backside. The creature – named Longisquama, which means “lengthy scales”, after the unusual, feather-like protrusions on its again – most likely lived in a close-by forest with a number of different curious animals, together with a flying reptile often known as Sharovipteryx and Gigatitan, a large mantis-like insect.

Because the Longisquama‘s physique slowly decayed and step by step turned to stone, continents drifted and the panorama above modified, with the lake drying up and reforming quite a few instances. Then, within the Sixties, Soviet palaeontologist Aleksandr Sharov discovered the fossilised reptile and shone a scientific spotlight on this little-known nook of the USSR.

At this time, the area is in southern Kyrgyzstan, a dusty panorama of vibrant rock outcrops and dry riverbeds framed by the snow-capped peaks of the Turkestan vary. These rocks, remnants of the layers of mud and silt deposited on the lake mattress on which Longisquama got here to relaxation, are known as the Madygen formation, after a close-by village. Palaeontologists recognise it as one of the world’s richest Triassic fossil beds and a lagerstätte – a website with exquisitely preserved specimens – however few different individuals have heard of Madygen.

That appears set to vary. If all goes to plan, this 12 months the area will turn into a International Geopark, the primary in…

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