Sunday, January 13, 2008

Moroccan fossils - a 300 million year old treasure

The region around Khouribga, Morocco is known as the phosphate plateau. The phosphate mines have exposed a wealth of marine fossils dating from the Cretaceous to Eocene ages (110-40 million years ago). Most visitors to the country will discover fossils from Alnif and Erfoud - Ammonites, trilobites and orthoceres. While many tourists have complained about the fake fossil industry in Morocco, it is not always the case that everything is fake. Three scientists have discovered a 300-million year-old fossil specimen of an invertebrate worm in the southern city of Zagora.

The invertebrate, a type of annelid worm, was an important component of ancient seabed ecosystems. It might determine the origin of this animal that would have belonged to marine bristle worms that still exist. The new discovery might also enable researchers to identify the animals as part of the annelid worm family, which also includes modern sea mice, earthworms and leeches.


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