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Chennai’s teen palaeontologist develops digital fossil repository

City girl Aswatha Biju, India’s youngest palaeontologist,the 13-year-old has initiated a digital repository on fossils where she shares details like name, the location a fossil was collected from, age of the fossil, which era it belongs to, and the fossil’s size.

Chennai’s teen palaeontologist develops digital fossil repository
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Photos of fossils from Aswatha?s collection, Aswatha?s screenshot

Chennai

City girl Aswatha Biju, India’s youngest palaeontologist, had just finished her full-day online class. Quickly after having a fruit, she sat for a video chat with DT Next. During the lockdown, the 13-year-old has initiated a digital repository on fossils where she shares details like name, the location a fossil was collected from, age of the fossil, which era it belongs to, and the fossil’s size. Before the chat, she showed us the fossil collection and explained them with a lot of enthusiasm. The young prodigy has 114 specimens of invertebrates, vertebrates and flora fossil. 

“Through my Facebook profile, I have been sharing details of fossils and their history. Those who follow me know that I have a huge collection. People are fascinated by fossils and nobody usually collects them instead buy it. So after seeing my posts about fossils, a few started asking questions like whether I collected or I bought them and how much money I spend on buying them and so on. To avoid such questions, I thought it is better to have a digital repository on fossils. That’s how I created a separate page on social media during the lockdown,” says Aswatha. 

Though she started the digital platform to avoid unwanted questions from the ‘fossil lovers’, the youngster says that she has a huge intention behind it. “Instead of showing it in picturised form, people will get a better idea if we show the exact fossil pictures. I also add details like phylum, name, location, age, stage, period, era and length of the fossil. Digital is the way forward and I have started the platform at the right time. It will be helpful for people from any part of the world,” she asserts. 

To kindle a passion for fossil studies among students, Aswatha used to hold seminars at schools and colleges. “To my surprise, some schools and colleges approached me asking if I can do webinars on topics like the evolution of earth & life forms, landforms & coral reefs and so on. I have done four webinars in the past three months and it was a different experience lecturing about fossils online,” she says with a smile. Before concluding the half hour video chat, Aswatha pulled out three huge baskets of unidentified specimens and says, “I am trying to collect details on this now during my free time.” 

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