Home Sci-Tech South Africa: Capenature Tries to Solve the Mystery of the Dyer Island Fossilised Elephant Teeth

South Africa: Capenature Tries to Solve the Mystery of the Dyer Island Fossilised Elephant Teeth

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While on a routine trip to Dyer Island off the Western Cape coast, Andrae Marais, the CapeNature conservation manager at Walker Bay Nature Reserve, spotted what appeared to be elephant molar teeth.

First published in the Daily Maverick 168 weekly newspaper.

Had he not been “looking for loose pieces of metal”, which he thought might be harmful to the thousands of seabirds living on the island, he would have missed them.

Marais’s discovery, on the morning of 3 February, has sparked several questions about how the teeth landed on the 20ha island 8.5km from Kleinbaai harbour in Gansbaai, and about 4km offshore.

The molars, Marais said, looked “out of place” on the ground. Slightly fragmented, they were lying out in the open, right on the surface of the soil, he told DM168.

Not knowing what the fragment was, Marais picked it up and took it inside to ask his colleagues what they made of his weathered discovery.

Marais soon recognised that the object’s “distinct shape” resembled the teeth on the remains of an elephant skeleton found at De Mond Nature Reserve some years previously.

The molars, all remarkably intact, were being kept at the Walker…

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