• Name: Paul McLerran
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Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Dig Spotlight: In the Valley of the Moon

No, the title is not suggesting an excavation on the surface of the moon.......but paleontological investigations at the Ischigualasto-Talampaya World Heritage Site (called "the valley of the moon" because of its incredible geological formations) in Argentina have been turning up startling evidence of life-forms on another planet -- the planet earth that existed over 200 million years ago at the end of the Triassic Period. This was BEFORE the big dinosaurs of Jurassic times walked the earth, but right around the time of the "great extinction" that led to their ascendancy. The excavation discoveries are suggesting that the great extinction was not as catastrophic in the southern hemisphere as it was in the north, and species that were formative to the big dinosaurs we all know and love in the Jurassic period were "king" during the late ("upper") Triassic period in this part of the world. With the help of Earthwatch volunteer teams, Dr. Oscar Alcober, Director of the Natural Science Museum at the University of San Juan, Argentina, is revolutionizing our knowledge of the formative dinosaur period and really "making history", so to speak. Fascinating stuff.

If you are interested in becoming a part of this Earthwatch team, go to www.earthwatch.org and look for the "Triassic Park" expedition. If you like adventure, "roughing it" a little and being a part of some major scientific discoveries, this is an experience you may wish to consider. I may try it myself!


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