After 50 years, fossil fans still dig at Lake Nojiri in Japan

Mar 28, 2012 The Yomiuri Shimbun

More than half a century after fossils of Naumann elephants were discovered at Lake Nojiri in Shinano, Nagano Prefecture in Japan, the hunt for more fossils of the ancient beasts is continuing - and everyone has been welcome to take part.

About 83,000 fossils and other items have been unearthed over the years during excavations that have been dubbed the "Lake Nojiri method," in which anyone - including children - can dig for fossils of the elephants that lived in the glacial age but have been extinct for thousands of years.

About 24,000 people have participated in excavations at the site since 1962, and about 230 people, between the ages of 5 and 78, are scheduled to take part in the 19th dig that started Saturday and runs to this coming Saturday.

Fossilized Naumann elephant teeth were found at Lake Nojiri in 1948, and excavation started in March 1962 with the support of . In the 50 years since then, many precious fossils, including those of Naumann elephants and elks from 40,000 years to 60,000 years ago, have been discovered.

"Nojiri-ko Tomo no Kai" (association of friends of Lake Nojiri), a group formed by participants in the excavations, has expanded to 22 organizations across the nation.

On Saturday morning, about 80 people attended a groundbreaking ceremony and started preparatory work at the site.

Tadao Kobayashi, a former middle school teacher who is now an adviser for the excavation and research team, has participated in every excavation.

Kobayashi, 75, from Sakado, Saitama Prefecture, said he could not forget the emotional moment when his students who were with him on an excavation found some Naumann elephant bones. Kobayashi has taken about 100 students to Nojiri over the years.

His daughter, 45, whom he took to the site when she was a kindergartner, is a mother herself, and she took her two primary school-age daughters to the previous in 2010.

"There's always a sense of anticipation and nervousness about what we'll find on these excavations," Kobayashi said. "It really keeps you on edge."

The number of participants peaked at 3,652 in the 1975 dig. "I'm glad that so many people have participated in all the excavations. I think this still fascinates people," Kobayashi said.

Explore further: New hadrosaur noses into spotlight

not rated yet
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Mastodon Tusk May Be Largest Ever Uncovered In NYS

Oct 23, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- Research under way at the New York State Museum indicates that a huge mastodon tusk, recently excavated by Museum scientists in Orange County, may be the largest tusk ever found in New York State.

Recommended for you

New hadrosaur noses into spotlight

Sep 19, 2014

Call it the Jimmy Durante of dinosaurs – a newly discovered hadrosaur with a truly distinctive nasal profile. The new dinosaur, named Rhinorex condrupus by paleontologists from North Carolina State Univer ...

Militants threaten ancient sites in Iraq, Syria

Sep 19, 2014

For more than 5,000 years, numerous civilizations have left their mark on upper Mesopotamia—from Assyrians and Akkadians to Babylonians and Romans. Their ancient, buried cities, palaces and temples packed ...

New branch added to European family tree

Sep 17, 2014

The setting: Europe, about 7,500 years ago. Agriculture was sweeping in from the Near East, bringing early farmers into contact with hunter-gatherers who had already been living in Europe for tens of thousands ...

User comments : 0