Venezuelan oil survey digs up prehistoric animals

While surveying Venezuelan soil, oil companies unintentionally discovered a buried treasure of a different kind: Gigantic animal fossils as old as 370 million years.

The findings include a Volskwagen-sized armadillo, a bus-sized crocodile, a saber-tooth tiger, a featherless, iguana-like chicken, and a three-meter pelican.

Palaeontologists have taken possession of the prehistoric bones and are analysing them at the Venezuelan Institute for Scientific Research, AFP reports. Researchers have about 12,000 recorded specimens on site including a tar-stained mastodon bone from the Ice Age.

Scientists are now hoping to find human remains.

"We are close," the head of the Institute's laboratory told the AFP. "You have to keep exploring the area. We have already found spearheads."

Venezuela's massive oil deposits are believed to hold many more prehistoric fossils. Paleontological studies also benefit oil companies because they can determine the age of an oil field.

Creative Commons image by: John W. Schulze