Saturday, December 08, 2007

Sinkhole opens way to weird fossil world
Fossil skeletons of an unusual land-roaming Cuban crocodile, a tortoise and 25 species of birds including a raptor known as a caracara are among the ancient treasures recently discovered in a sinkhole in the Bahamas.

Expert diver Brian Kakuk and his colleagues retrieved these fossils, along with the bones of a lizard, snakes, humans and bats, along the floor and walls of Sawmill Sink, a saltwater cavern of a type called a blue hole on Abaco Island.

The bones, ranging in age from 1,000 to 4,200 years old, were very well preserved in the deep, oxygen-free saltwater layer of the sinkhole, which is free of the bacteria and fungi that typically munch on bones. Divers also found fossilized leaves, twigs, flowers, fruits, seeds, pollen and spores.

Chock full of organic remains, too, so this should turn out to be a gold mine.