“I shall endeavour to find out how nature’s forces act upon one another, and in what manner the geographic environment exerts its influence on animals and plants. In short, I must find out about the harmony in nature.”   – Alexander von Humboldt

Imagine you are walking on the playground and you come across a piece of rock with an unusual shape and a designed pattern carved on it, you take it to a geologist or any person you think who might have an idea and he tells you it’s a fossil of an organism that breathed on this planet more than 50 millions ago. Now imagine a town full of such fossils waiting to be explored. Amazed? Me too, but it’s all real and right here in India. Ariyalur is a small town located in the state of Tamil Nadu and is crammed with fossils millions of years old everywhere from backyards to lakesides. The place despite being such an enormous hub of scientific contribution, didn’t get any attention until now when a Chennai based film making crew decided to unearth these embedded fragments of life.

“Science is a pursuit I’d never be tired of taking. My love for science and my love of film-making is a combination that I can never say no to.”

Says Vaishnavi Sundar, the director and voice over artist of the film.
‘Unearthing The Treasures of Ariyalur’ is a not-for-profit and crowd-funded project targeted by Nirmukta, India’s largest NGO dedicated to promote Science, Freethought and Secular Humanism and was completed by Vaishnavi’s own emerging company Lime Soda Films.

Paleontology is the study of the history of life on Earth as reflected in the fossil record. With the expertise of two Paleontologists, Nirmal Rajah and Anurag Amin, the documentary takes you underneath the soil of Ariyalur and provides you a look into the life that sustained millions of years ago. An incredible arrangement of graphics and a story-telling voice over adds to the credibility of this film.

The documentary along with being fairly educational and exploratory also bestows us with a generous amount of scientific tranquillity and explains why is it important not just for the scientists but for all of us to fathom the trail of our existence. A significant part of the film includes a decent interaction between the two Paleontologists and kids from a local school which illustrates how a small segment of dissemination about science can evoke curiosity and the ‘will to inquire’ within children. An instant appreciation about the film by a Utah State Paleontologist, Dr. James l. Kirkland says,

“Happy to see this fine Paleontology documentary. As a Paleontologist I was most excited to see the kids in the film. Paleontology is one of the top gateways of kids developing a love of science. That is a priceless contribution to all of our societies.”

It is worth to note that this is by far the first documentary to cover fossilization in India and it has done a stupendous job by not only covering the prime intention of unearthing the fossils of Ariyalur but also by watering the plant of scientific inquisitiveness present in each one of us. Making such documentaries has been a necessity in India because they act as flairs to all those students, especially the unprivileged ones who see themselves securing a future in science but lack the basic inspiration to do so. Watch it and show it to everyone.

For further reading visit:  Unearthing The Treasures Of Ariyalur – A Documentary.


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