Local authorities in Weng’an, Guizhou province have promised to protect a precious fossil site after it was partially destroyed by the local mining industry.
“The mining area in Weng’an is the only place in the world where scientists can observe the early history of biological evolution. We reserved three valuable sites in November of last year, but when we came back in April, one of them had completely collapsed,” Zhu Maoyan, a professor at the Nanjing Institute of Geology and Paleontology under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Science and Technology Daily.
According to Zhu, the unique fossil site was destroyed due to excessive mining. As one of Asia’s phosphorite "warehouses," Weng’an is famous for its mining industry, which is responsible for up 60 percent of the local government's revenue.
“Both local government and the public have failed to realize that the local fossil site is unique and extremely valuable. The protection of the site doesn’t require huge economic sacrifice; all we need to do is choose a core area and then protect it,” said Zhu.
In response to the incident, local authorities have stopped mining activities around the reserved sites, and fossil protection work is now underway.
In 1998, a large number of 600-million-year-old animal fossils were excavated in Weng’an. The fossils were determined to predate the Cambrian period - at that time believed to be the earliest era in which animals roamed the earth - by 60 million years.