Thursday, 19 February 2015

Researchers discover undersea graveyard of extinct giant lemurs

February 18, 2015

Chuck Bednar for redOrbit.com – @BednarChuck

An undersea graveyard containing hundreds of bones of extinct giant lemurs, some as large as gorillas, has been discovered by a team of divers and paleontologists in Madagascar.

According to National Geographic, the fossilized remains were discovered at the bottom of Aven Cave in the island nation’s Tsimanampetsotse National Park. While the bones of other types of extinct creatures were also found there, the majority of them belonged to the large extinct lemurs known as sloth lemurs, koala lemurs, and monkey lemurs, the website noted.

Those names were given to the different types of lemurs because of their unique lifestyles, as well as to link them with the modern-day animals that they most resembled. These giant lemurs all died out roughly 500 to 2,000 years ago, possible at the hands of humans, they added.

Brooklyn College anthropologist Alfred Rosenberger, a National Geographic grantee who is leading the project, said that the underwater cave is allowing scientists to take an unprecedented look at these unusual creatures. Their remains have been incredibly well preserved, he added, but the question remains: exactly how did these creatures find their way into Aven Cave?

Rosenberger and his colleagues have only started the process of cataloging what they discovered on the surface of the area, and have yet to begin work on determining how this underwater grave came to be. However, based on the information currently available, they believe that most of the bones washed into the cave over a long span, both before and after the arrival of people.


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