Scientists Discover 300-million-year-old Fossils in Thuringian Forest
Enlarge image Paleontologist Jörg Schneider with his students on site in in the Thuringian Forest. (© picture alliance / dpa) Freshwater sharks, ancient trees and dinosaur footprints: scientists have discovered 300-million-year-old plant and animal fossils in the Thuringian Forest in central Germany. The discovery was announced by a spokesperson for the Technical University Bergakademie in Freiberg, Saxony, on Thursday. Hundreds of paleontological remains were found near the Rennsteig ridge way at the geological preserve Rotliegend-See Oberhof, and they are now being analyzed, the spokesperson said.
Some 300 million years ago, the Thuringian Forest was a stretch of land connecting what is now North America and Eastern Europe. The area was then occupied by a lake. “We have examined layers from a lake which stood on this site 295 million years ago, in the Rotliegend period,” said the Freiberg paleontologist Jörg Schneider. He is co-leader of the excavation team of 15 students, scientists and assistants together with Ralf Werneburg, director of the Museum of Natural History in the Castle Bertholdsburg in Schleusingen, Thuringia.
“With this research, we want to gain a new understanding of what plants and animals lived on the super-continent Pangaea, when the continents were not separated yet, and of the scientific connections among them,” Schneider continued.
The researchers excavated multiple patches of land, several square meters each and up to five meters deep, near the ridge path at the geological preserve. In addition to teeth and fins from freshwater sharks, they discovered the remains of insects, centipedes, coniferous trees, ferns, mussels, crabs, as well as small dinosaurs and dinosaur footprints.
Some of the findings need to be examined more closely, after which they are planned to be exhibited in the Museum of Natural History in Schleusingen. Near the excavation site in the Thuringian Forest, a plaque is going to be mounted to inform tourists about the area’s geological significance.
The site of the new findings is already known since 1875 and has been listed as a geological preserve for a few decades.