Huge Karoo fossil find rocks scientists’ world

PALEOBOTANY'S ‘ONCE IN A LIFETIME'

Huge Karoo fossil find rocks scientists’ world

When Rose Prevec noticed a specific outcrop of rock in the Karoo, it ‘screamed fossils’. Thirteen years later she has announced a discovery so rich and well preserved that it has filled massive gaps in knowledge about the evolution of the planet and its ecosystem diversity before the ‘Great Dying’ wiped out most life on Earth. DAVE CHAMBERS reports.

TALKING to Rose Prevec about the surprise she has just sprung is a bit like encountering a boisterous puppy. The energy she radiates, the sparkle in her eyes, suggests that for her, in this moment, life is about as good as it gets.

The reason for Prevec’s excitement might not trigger everyone’s serotonin receptors, but in the world of paleobotany the discovery she announced in a paper at the weekend was earth-shattering.

In 2009, within a few metres of a tiny Karoo gravel road in the Sutherland area, Prevec made what she now calls “the ultimate, once-in-a-lifetime find”: an almost impossibly rich fossil deposit that fills massive gaps in knowledge about the evolution of the planet and the diversification of its life forms.  ..

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