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A 515 million years old “marine Pompeii” discovered 1 hour 30 minutes from Taroudant

In Aït Youb , in the Atlas, 1 hour 30 minutes from Taroudant, Franco-British scientists led by researchers from the University of Poitiers discovered trilobites (our image ) petrified in the ash of a volcano ago 515 million years old which revealed anatomical details of exceptional precision, making them the best preserved marine fossils ever found. This major scientific advance, which has just made the cover of the prestigious "Science" magazine, has been described as "marine Pompeii", in reference to the sad fate reserved for the inhabitants of the Roman city after the eruption of Vesuvius, with in its place places human fossils with those of marine arthropods.

“Marine Pompeii” is located east of Taroudant (our map). It is reached by Ouled Berhil, then leaving, on the right, the Tizi n'Test road.

Calls have been made to include Aït Youb as a World Heritage Site.

The discovery made in this small Berber village with authentic charm (our photo) revealed very numerous anatomical details on X-rays, which had never been observed on the millions of other specimens discovered in the world and which did not reach not this level of precision, which allows us to better understand how this species fed.

During the volcanic eruption, the tissues were consumed by the intense heat, leaving only cavities in the solidified ashes: the molds of the organisms (our image). Hence the preservation of the smallest details, including the hairs and spines along the appendages. The scientists were able to examine a digestive tract, specialized legs around the mouth and even a labrum, “a fleshy lobe serving as the upper lip in current arthropods”.

“New windows should thus open onto the past of our planet,” says Professor Abderrazak El Albani (our photo ), teacher-researcher at the Institute of Chemistry of Media and Materials in Poitiers, who directed the work.

The latter had already found fossils in Gabon dating back 2.1 billion years .

The discovery of Aït Youb confirms Morocco as an El Dorado for discoveries affecting the planet's past. Agadir can boast of having the beach with the most diverse dinosaur tracks in Anza. Last March, we learned that the phosphates of Sidi Chennane, in the province of Khouribga in the Oulad Abdoun basin, had made it possible to find the fossilized remains of a particularly frightening sea monster (our University of Bath image ) which evolved at the end of the Cretaceous.

Also last March, the media announced that British researchers had managed to calculate the height and age of one of the largest and most complex dunes on Earth located at Erg Chebbi, near Merzouga. The Lala Lallia dune (our photo) measures 100 m. in height and was formed 13,000 years ago. These data make it possible to understand the winds that formed it and to unravel the climate of the time.

The most important and most spectacular discovery made in Morocco, however, remains that of Jebel Ighoud, the cradle of humanity, whose museum and interpretation center currently under construction will very soon be able to be visited.


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