Millenia-old fossils in Anatolia excite world of science
KIRŞEHİR - Anadolu Agency
AA PhotoThe fossils of monkeys, pigs, horses and antelopes, which are estimated to have lived in Anatolia 8 million years ago, have been unearthed during works conducted by the Ahi Evran University (AEU) Surface Survey Group.
The head of the group, Associated Professor Ahmet Cem Erkman said the surface survey, which is backed by the Turkish Historical Society and the Culture Ministry’s General Directorate of Cultural Heritage and Museums, turned into salvage excavations last year. Since then, they have unearthed a large amount of fossils.
Erkman said that in the Hirfanlı area, in the Central Anatolian province of Kırşehir, they found rhino, giraffe and elephant fossils last year.
“The works this year unearthed the fossils of vertebrae animals such as primates, pigs and antelopes,” he said.
Erkman added that the animal fossils were found in one region only, and are thought to have been dragged there due to an overflow of the Kızılırmak River to Hirfanlı.
“Examinations of the fossils show us that they date back 8 million years. Geological aging work takes time, but the anatomic structure and change of animal bones suggest that they were from 8 million years ago,” he said.
Discussed at scientific congresses
“It was not known that the Kurutlu location, where the fossils were unearthed, had such a great importance. Since the findings, this place has gained value in the world scientific literature. We presented it during the symposiums of the Culture and Tourism Ministry as well as at the 14th International Mediterranean Neogene Stratigraphy Congress. It also drew interest at an archaeology congress in Moscow. We will be on stage once again during the 37th International Excavation, Research and Archeometry Symposium, which will be held in Erzurum,” Erkman added.
“The Kurutlu location will be in textbooks within 10 years; its fossils will included in these books. They are already quite popular in paleontology journals. We sometimes receive support from abroad. Guest academics from American universities are studying our work,” he said.
The AEU group head said that after being published in the anthropology and paleontology journals of the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TÜBİTAK), articles on the fossils would be published in internationally refereed journals.
“I believe the excavations will attract even greater interest in the coming years. We will introduce Kırşehir and its environs to the scientific world,” Erkman said.