Science: Researchers enjoy exciting discoveries – “a stroke of luck”

Science: Researchers make an exciting discovery – “a stroke of absolute luck”

Science: Researchers have made an exciting discovery.

Photo: Marcus Schulz / D

Went undiscovered for millions of years. Now researchers have made an exciting discovery: by pure chance they discovered something completely unknown before.

to me Science It is a huge success in return. And researchers in Germany are excited. The discovery is not the first in the place.

Science: Researchers make a special discovery near Hamburg

Once again, the excavation team made an important discovery in the Gros Bambau mud pit in the Duchy of Lauenburg near Hamburg. They discovered auditory bones (Latin: perioticum) and parts of the skull of an 11-million-year-old primitive whale brain.

“It was an absolute stroke of luck to discover an auditory bone just a few centimeters long in a mound of mud,” researcher Svenja Warnick said, describing the great moment. The discovery is of special significance to ScienceBecause whale species can be identified with the help of a whale.

“We assume that this is a previously unknown species,” said excavation director Gerhard Hopfner. For more than 30 years, Hopfner and his fellow volunteers have been regularly searching for fossil finds in the mud pit east of Hamburg. The skeletons of sharks, whales and other prehistoric marine creatures were frequently found there. The team members assume that they will find more treasures there for at least ten years.


“The biodiversity of marine mammals makes Gros Pampau a unique site in Germany,” said Oliver Hamby of the Museum Faure Naturkonde in Berlin.



The vertebrate paleontologist searches for whale animals in the geological ages of the middle and upper Miocene of Gros Pampau and is a regular guest at the excavation site. “Unfortunately, I haven’t had the opportunity to look at the latest discoveries, but I plan to do so this summer,” Hamby said.

Science: Not the first discovery

Previously, the remains of a leatherback turtle and basking shark approximately 11 million years old have been found in the mud pit, where mud is extracted commercially to seal the landfill. “The shark was about ten meters long and probably belonged to the species Cetorhinus maximus,” Hopfner said at the time. The remains of an original 11-million-year-old seal were also found in Gros Bambau.

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According to Hamps, the reason for the abundance of finds in the crater is a geological specificity. Hamby shows that the underground salt dome is slowly but surely pushing up the former sea floor of the original North Sea. That is why this layer is located only a few meters from the earth’s surface. “However, huge glaciers of past ice ages appeared and scattered parts of the skeleton,” Hamby said.

This is why special care is needed when restoring skeletal parts, says team member Andreas Malchow. “Just a few days ago, we extracted a 70-kilogram clay block with large parts of the skull from a wall,” Malchow reported. “We wrapped the whole block with tin foil and duct tape and put it in a transfer trough,” he said. Later the bones are cleaned and prepared by Höpfner at his home in Lübeck. “It’s a huge puzzle,” he said, “I need about 250 hours of work just to get the skull ready.”


Dispute over discoveries

However, there has been a dispute since 2020 about the exhibition of discoveries at the Museum of Nature and Environment in Lübeck. The Hanseatic city would like to conclude a cooperation agreement with the excavation team. “There are different ideas about the role of the excavation team in the future development of the museum,” said Monica Frank, Senator for Culture in Lübeck.

However, Höpfner and the excavation team have so far rejected such an agreement. “We were promised something different than what will be achieved now,” said Hopfner. That’s what the team hasn’t worked on for years. “But no matter what happens, we will keep digging,” Hopfner promised. (dpa/nk)


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