Author Topic: The bones of Kalasin  (Read 515 times)

Offline thaiga

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The bones of Kalasin
« on: March 09, 2018, 01:05:53 PM »
The bones of Kalasin

In Thailand's dinosaur country, the scientists arrive with spades and the tourists with cameras

Kalasin’s remoteness and its place on the government’s Human Achievement Index among Thailand’s five poorest provinces tend to mask the facts that it’s blanketed with green rice and vegetable plantations (thanks to the Lam Pao Dam built in the 1960s) and boasts a long and remarkable history.

Kalasin Dinosaur Park is the traveller’s gateway to the Jurassic world.

Billing itself as the cradle of Isaan culture, Kalasin was settled by the Lawa tribe 1,600 years ago. Millions of years before that, though, dinosaurs roamed the arid Isaan plateau – more there than anywhere else in present-day Thailand.

The bones dug up in Kalasin since 1978 have ensured a steady stream of both professional and amateur palaeontologists and geologists, who have collectively opened a window on the Kingdom’s own Jurassic world.

The dinosaurs come to life – almost – at Kalasin Dinosaur Park, an hour’s drive from the provincial capital, in Sahatsakhan district. Tourists and locals roam the mock prehistoric jungle, getting their pictures taken with lifelike, full-size replicas of Tyrannosaurus Rex and Apatosaurus.

Real-life palaeontologists are at work in the Sirindhorn Museum, a research centre that opened in 2008 and is run by the Department of Mineral Resources. Visitors are welcome to gawk at a huge variety of fossils

 Exhibits, interactive educational games and replica skeletons are spread over two floors. The first gallery examines the origins of the universe and the Earth in the Big Bang. The second dives into the origin of life in the terrestrial oceans and follows its migration onto land.

The third zone arrives in the Palaeozoic Era, by the end of which complex reptiles were already munching on the first modern plants. Then we discover Pangaea, the super-continent that gradually broke apart with the motion of tectonic plates in the Earth’s crust, triggering mass extinction but paving the way for the emergence of the dinosaurs and, much later, the earliest mammals.

There are nine types of dinosaur fossils in the fifth room, all unearthed in the Thai Northeast.

Phuwiangosaurus sirindhornae, the first sauropod found in Thailand, was famously named after Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, a keen student of palaeontology. Isanosaurus attavipatchi is the oldest sauropod found here and was named for the region, Isaan. Its bones are estimated to be 209 million years old.

Sirindhorn Museum is the place to see the wonderful array of dinosaur fossils that have been unearthed in Thailand since the first bones were found 1978.

Psittacosaurus sattayaraki was the first Ceratopsian dinosaur found – from a family of giant reptiles with parrot-like beaks. There is the plant-eating Hypsilophodon, and Siamtyrannus isanensis –a cousin of T Rex whose discovery caused global ripples.

Ginnareemimus, the first “ostrich dinosaur”, was dug up in Khon Kaen. Albertosaurus gets its name from Alberta in Canada, but the specimen here came from Montana in the United States.

Siamosaurus suteethorni was the basis for Thailand’s prominence in world palaeontology, the first to be unearthed – and only its teeth at that.

Phu Kum Khao, the original site where fossils were found, is examined in the sixth section. Visitors can see the region’s biggest laboratory and many more dinosaur fossils as they learn about the process of excavating and identifying specimens.

Then it’s on to the mammals of the Cenozoic Era, 65 million years ago, whose lineage is traced down to the modern elephant, horse, rhinoceros, whale and bat.

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