A new fossil, estimated to be dating to 360 million years ago, has been discovered on the N2 between Grahamstown and Peddie in the Eastern Cape.
Scientists discovered the treasure trove of plant fossils during blasting for upgrading of the N2 Road. They consist of sea weed and indigenous trees – the first of their kind in Sub-Saharan Africa.
The rock fossil with ancient pictures of species living in the water was discovered by Rhodes University Paleontologist Dr Robert Gess who was working on site as consultant.
Renowned paleontologist Dr Robert Gess works as an environmental consultant for South African National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) says it’s the first discovery of this type of a fossil in Africa since the similar fossil discovered in another road construction site in 1985 in the province was not preserved.
He says some of pictures on the rocks include ancient fishes and trees that normal grow on water. “We found invertebrates which were living in the water and plants that were falling … living along the banks of the water and washed [was] preserved in the mud. With only a single exception all the species are new species and interestingly the only fossil we have described in the past – which have described in the other fossil site the Waterloo farm in 1985 – we actually got better material here,” explains Dr Gess.
Sanral says it will preserve the discovery and the site will be turned to a heritage site. Sanral Regional Manager Mbulelo Peterson says this could attract historians.
“We will be providing a safe area where viewers, maybe some scholars of heritage may come and investigate … maybe more fossils that are probably hidden here to make sure that we contribute to our development as a nation.”
Dr Gess says he believes there is still more fossil on site and has roped more hands to assist him. The fossil is currently kept at Albany Museum in Grahamstown.