Capacity Building Fossil Workshop

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Once upon a time, in different epochs, Trinidad was blanketed in ice, armadillos the size of cars, ground sloths larger than humans roamed the land. While there is some  documentation and more research is in progress, about the country’s pre-Columbian and colonial history, its pre-historic existence has largely remained a mystery.

This month, the National Trust is partnering with local and international experts in the study of pre-historic flora and fauna found in Trinidad, to give the public greater insights into the country’s fascinating fossil history.

The National Trust of Trinidad and Tobago in conjunction with local experts  and the LA Brea Tar Pit Museum (Los Angeles) will be hosting a Fossils Workshop on  August 27 and 28, 2021, led by Council member, Dr. Ryan Mohammed. Alexis M. Mychajliw (PHD) from Middlebury University, USA will also be a key facilitator. The workshop is open to persons interested in learning about the exploration and care for fossils and participants will receive a Certificate of Completion. They will also be eligible for selection to take part in an actual fossil dig in 2022.

This Fossil workshop, “Trinidad’s Ice Age”  is Phase 1 of a Three- Phase Program aimed at bolstering the country’s capacity for exploration, research, and conservation of its prehistoric fossil evidence. The other two phases are a fossils exploration dig earmarked for the first quarter of 2022 and the development of infrastructure for further capacity building, including establishing of an administrative body to regulate fossil research and exploration, academic scholarships in relevant fields of study and fossil exploration training spaces. Under the National Trust of Trinidad and Tobago Act, fossils are included as items of historical importance that merit legal protection from unregulated exploitation.

The fossils workshop is happening against the backdrop of the repatriation of fossils discovered in Trinidad as far back as the 1920’s, which were sent abroad for analysis. Margaret McDowall, Chairman of the National Trust, stated that this situation is what the 3-phase development program is aimed at addressing. “Our ability to have the local capacity to explore, catalogue and educate citizens about our fossil history is another indicator of the country’s independence and development. This is a multi-billion dollar global activity and as a country, we have a lot of catching up to do.”

Ms. McDowall was grateful for the opportunity provided to the National Trust to collaborate with experts from Middlebury College and La Brea Tar Pit Museum in Los Angeles California, to jumpstart to process.

The fee to register before 18th August is TT$100 for National Trust Members and $150 for Non-members. From August 19th  the fee changes to $150 for National Trust members and $200 for non-members. A limited number of sponsored spaces are available for secondary and tertiary students to enroll for free.

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