Underwater lemur graveyard found

Megaladapis edwardsi extinct lemur
Life restoration of Megaladapis edwardsi based on photos of skeletal remains.

Hundreds of fossils are being excavated in flooded caves on Madagascar’s coast, including bones from a lemur the size of a gorilla.

An international dive team explored inland caves, and discovered the single largest collection of prehistoric lemur fossils in history. Undamaged for thousands of years, the bones are a snapshot of life on the island before human history began.

Specimens found include Megaladapis skulls measuring 30 centimetres (one foot). These relatively recent giant lemurs died out little more than 60 years ago and overlapped with the European settlement of Madagascar.

Among the lemur fossils, the research team found elephant birds, giant fossa, extinct hippos and horned crocodiles. It’s not clear exactly how the remains ended up in the cave system. Tidal currents may have drawn them in, or they could have been dragged in by a predator before the cave became flooded.

The excavation will continue, and once all the bones have been removed from the sea bed, the team will examine what lies beneath the sediment. The fossils will have DNA extracted and the team will attempt to date the remains.

Watch the clip below to see the team in action.

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Kangaroo anatomy   Images from flickr.com/photos/davidden commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Megaladapis