Projects/science - world/may 26, 2020

Palaeontological field exploration in the South African Karoo

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About This Project

For palaeontologists, the South African Karoo is legendary, not only for its appealing wilderness, but mostly because of its great fossil discoveries. A 200 million year old skull or skeleton can pop up below every single step you make! Although vertebrate fossils have been known in the Karoo for more than a century, its exploration is far from complete and new species are discovered on almost every expedition. This project aims to explore the oldest terrestrial deposits of the Karoo.

Distribution of money

Exploratory fieldwork is time-intensive, and collecting high-quality data requires a continuity of research funding and focus. Fieldwork is the cornerstone of exploration and the starting point of our endeavour. This fieldwork will provide the raw material (fossils and volcanic ashes) for our research.

Palaeontological, geological, sedimentological and stratigraphic fieldwork requires time in the field to prospect for fossils, record lithological characteristics, sample rocks for petrographic and geochemical analysis, and collect volcanic ashes and sandstones for zircon dating purposes.

This project is critical to our larger project of understanding biodiversity change on land during the Middle Permian period and the effects of the end Capitanian extinction 260 million years ago.