Fossils show Anatolian city was once like Africa
ÇANKIRI – Anadolu Agency
AA photoFossils unearthed from the Çorakyerler fossil bed in the Central Anatolian province of Çankırı have revealed that the region was very similar to the African continent some 8 million years ago.
Excavation works have been ongoing in the province’s Fatih neighborhood since 1997 and the remains of nearly 3,500 8-million-year-old fossils have been found so far. The fossil bed turned into an excavation site in 2001.
Ankara University Faculty of Language, Literature and Geography Anthropology Department member Prof. Ayla Sevim Erol is the head of the excavations, where 10 students from various universities are working.
Stating that they had recently started this year’s excavations, Erol added they had found a number of different species. “We have so far found more than 20 species including elephant, rhino, horse, pig, giraffe, ship, deer, otter and saber-toothed tiger.”
Fossil region known around the world
Erol said the region where the fossils were located has become known around the world. “We started excavations there in 1997. Everyone knows about Çorakyerler. We promote the region by attending many conferences. It is in national and international literature,” she added.
The professor said the excavation field once looked very different from the present-day site. “We used to think that Çorakyerler had been barren in the past but animal fossils show that it was not. We see that there were river beds, forested areas and savannah fields. Çorakyerler was very different from today’s Çankırı,” Erol said, adding the fossil site once resembled Africa.
“This is vertebrate fossil bed but very different from the place where today’s animals are living. We mention Africa when talking about this place. Çorakyerler had water resources and gallery forests just like in Africa. There are animal species unique to the region. Lots of animals that we found here are not living here anymore. New surprises are waiting for us this year during excavations that will continue until September.”
The fossils of ancient animals found at the site are currently on display at the Çankırı Culture and Tourism Directorate, but they will be moved to the new Çankırı Museum.
In 2014, officials decided to turn a building, first constructed as a government institution at the start of the 20th century by Ottoman Sultan Abdulhamid II, into a museum. The building had served as the Çankırı Courthouse for many years until the court was relocated.
When the restoration is finished, the building will serve as a paleontology, ethnography and archaeology museum.
The building will display the 8-million-year-old fossils removed during archaeological excavations in the Central Anatolian province.