Sunday, October 19, 2014


Chennai has been seeing non-stop rains since Friday; of course the streets are all flooded and the schools have been closed - and it looks like the rain will continue into the next couple of days as well. 

It was probably worse 20 million years ago in this part of the world. During the Mio-Pilocene age, there were severe floods - and probably some volcanic explosions as well. The forests south of modern-day Chennai were washed away and many of the trees ended up around Thiruvakkarai, about 175km away from Chennai. Over the eons, the trees were fossilised and turned to stone. Roughly 200 such fossilised tree-trunks can be seen today at the National Fossil Wood Park in Thiruvakkarai.

One of the chunks was brought over to Madras and placed on display at the Museum. It remains there, open to nature - I guess if it has been weathered over 20 million years, a couple of centuries more or less would not matter. This display, along with the skeleton of a whale, is the first memory I have of the museum's exhibits. Next time you are there, do look out for this - it is quite easy to miss!

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