Finding Fossils on the Amazon

by Wout Salenbien


There is no better past-time activity then to spend your whole day by the river, picking out fossils. Breaking up rocks by hand, sieving them to wash out the fine fraction and picking out fossil after fossil from the coarse fraction is quite rewarding (even though it might not sound like it). This picture shows exactly the rewarding part of the hunt; wrapping up a whole day of screen washing while watching the beautiful sunset, with a majestic view on the last foothills of the Andes, the western-most edge of the Amazon rainforest. For hundreds and hundreds of miles east, there is nothing else besides forest. In the end, we recovered a whole range of teeth and bone bits. These includes fish jaws, crab claws, a whole range of rodent teeth, reptile scales, hand bones and many yet-to-be-identified fossils. Combining all this information gives us a snapshot of what life was around the river some 19 million years ago.

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