In Lesvos and in the Termi region, on the eastern side of the island, where scientific research and excavations were carried out by paleontologists, hundreds of fossil bones of vertebrates have been discovered that lived on the island during the geological period of the Lower Pleistocene, that is, about two million years ago.
The study began at the Natural History Museum of the Petrified Forest of Lesvos in November 2019 and, despite the constraints and challenges posed by the pandemic, completed its first phase in late 2021. “The study identified hundreds of vertebrate bones that lived in Lesvos during the geological period of the Lower Pleistocene, that is, about two million years ago,” says Nikos Zuros, director of the Museum of Natural History of the Petrified Forest of Lesvos and Aegean University professor to APE-MPE.
The scientist continues: “The rich material of the studied paleontological excavations testifies to the state of the island’s fauna, reveals important facts about the ecosystem of the East Aegean Sea and the connection of the islands with the neighboring peninsula of Asia Minor.” To date, the excavations have found about 500 identifiable samples and many more fragments of fossils of unknown osteological nature.
Research, Mr. Zuros continues, began when the first fossil was found in sedimentary rocks. “It was a jaw fragment, probably belonging to a small antelope. Exploratory excavations were then started to determine if there were any other fossils. We were fortunate enough to find large tectonic cavities formed in limestone rocks that were filled with fossilized fragments of animal bones.”
Exploratory excavations were planned for the next year at the main site. “The first fossils found were the skeletons of large ungulate mammals. The condition of the bones was not very good, as most of them were badly damaged due to high humidity. The study was suspended due to the restrictions of the pandemic, which did not allow work in the period October-November 2020. “
The most important phase of systematic excavation began in June 2021. “The dense concentration of bones in sediments and their burial without a definite orientation has often led to a revision of the excavation methodology in order to more safely extract the fossils. The dense accumulation of bones made the excavation very difficult, and the work was carried out at a slow pace so as not to damage important finds. “
For this reason, the preservation of the osteological material at the site was carried out by the experienced conservationists of the Natural History Museum of the Petrified Forest of Lesvos.