Underwater Cave Found to House Large Fossil Graveyard (Video)

January 10, 2015 Updated: January 10, 2015

A series of underwater caves housing what could be the largest known collection of lemur fossils has been discovered in Madagascar.

Paleontologists and anthropologists funded by the National Science Foundation and National Geographic found a wealth of specimens, some dating back hundreds, if not thousands of years. In addition to the find being remarkable because of its size, it’s also unique due to the fact that a great number of the bones were still fully in tact and grouped together.

The study’s leader, Alfred Rosenberger from Brooklyn College, explained that fossilized skeletons are most often discovered broken and spread over large areas. Of course, being a scientist doesn’t necessarily make you a skilled diver, so the specimen collection was left to a specialized, and experienced, team.

They visited three caves all with fossils, but found an impressive array of lemur bones in one called Aven. Along with the remains of numerous lemur species that have since gone extinct, traces of bats, rodents, and carnivores were discovered. Combined, they provide researchers with an excellent sampling of what lived in Madagascar a long time ago, and answer questions as to why they died out.

The discovery will also help them to learn more about the distant relatives of humans, as well as about ourselves.