State

Educational centre, museum step up footfall at Perambalur’s Sathanur fossil wood park- The New Indian Express

Express News Service

PERAMBALUR: In an encouraging trend, the footfall at the National Fossil Wood Park at Sathanur in the district, which according to officials was usually hovering over 10,000 and 12,000 annually, has risen to over 20,000 in the past six months alone.

Officials attribute this to the museum and the Sathanur Petrified Tree Educational Centre (SAPTEC) that have been functioning out of the park premises since last year. The park at Sathanur village was developed by the geology department following the discovery of a 12 crore-year-old fossil tree by geologist MS Krishnan in 1940.

With various fossil pieces discovered subsequently in the surrounding villages, the Tamil Nadu Tourism Development Corporation in 2008 set up a museum at the fossil tree site a cost of Rs 50.50 lakh in a bid to preserve them as well.

The SAPTEC was also set up on the premises, both of which were inaugurated by State Transport Minister SS Sivasankar in October 2021. The Centre and the museum now house various explanatory charts on the solar system, origins of the earth, the big bang theory, the origin of life, evolution and the fossil tree.

Other fossils collected from the region also find display at the museum. A children’s park too finding space on the premises add reason for drawing hundreds of school and college students, locals and tourists alike to the fossil park.

S Sasikala, a guide at SAPTEC, told The New Indian Express, “More students and the public at large are visiting the fossil tree than before. Recently, more than 50 archaeology students from Presidency College in Chennai, students from Jamal Mohammed College, National College in Tiruchy, and many others from Kerala visited the tree park and learned about the history of the tree. I can easily explain the history of the fossils to those who come here. Some people learn through the charts set up here.”

V Arulmozhi of Tiruchy, a visitor, said, “I came here with friends when I was in college three years ago. Then the museum was built but never opened. Also, there was no information here about the fossil and its history. It was a disappointment to us then.”

He further said that after learning about the opening of the museum and the educational centre, I am paying a visit now. “We were able to learn about the fossil tree by studying the information and the fossil models set up here. The district administration should also protect other fossil trees in the region and raise awareness among the public,” he added.

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