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2005 2010 2011 2014
Road to Mahajanga Launching the 2010 expedition, travelling from Antananarivo to Mahajanga via RN2; most of Madagascar's central plateau is completely deforested and covered by exotic grasses and erosion gullies.
First we prospected at Ampazony, the site that produced the new seacow species Eotheroides lambondrano in 2003. Lydia Ampazony
Sorting fossils Rice and beansDan Branch sorting fossils; a massive plate of beans and rice.
Bac Baobab After work at Ampazony we crossed the Betsiboka river on the "Bac Baobab" ferry.
Team members relaxing on the ferry: Tsiory Andrianavalona, Niaina Ramihangihajason, Dan Branch, Lydia Raharivony, and University of Antananarivo Professor and collaborator Rachel Razafimbelo. Team Bac Baobab
Soalala After landing at Katsepy, on the west side of the Betsiboka, we drove west for a full day and arrived at Soalala, a small regional town. These fishing boats at Soalala are hand-made outriggers used for ocean fishing and transport.
Our second prospection site was Amparafaka, near Soalala, where we found these tall cliffs composed of Pliocene sandstones and Miocene limestones. Amparafaka
Cap Tanjona Our third site was Cap Tanjona, a Miocene limestone massif, which projected from the coast into the Mozambique channel.
Pachypodium View from the top of Cap Tanjona, covered by grasslands and "Satrana" fan palms, and some flowering Pachypodium (left).Cap Tanjona
Mahakamby Our fourth site: Nosy Mahakamby, a windswept island in the Mozambique channel.
Mahakamby at low tide. Mahakamby
MahakambyAbove: navigating the island was challenging at high tide; Right: Jean-Luc Raharison and Karen Samonds searching for fossils. Mahakamby
Jacketing Plaster jacketing for removal of fragile fossils.
University of Antananarivo student Tsiory Andrianavalona with a fossil find. Tsiory
Mahakamby A prospection team taking a break near the shore.
A natural arch formed by seawater erosion, shown here at low tide. Arch
Cuphus Cuphus, an invertebrate macrofossil.
Sunset at Mahakamby camp. Sunset
Brochette Malagasy fast food at Namakia market.
Our final fieldwork in 2010 was prospection in the Antsirabe region of the central high plateau. This is a typical "Imerina" high plateau landscape with terraced rice fields, grasslands and exotic pine trees grown for timber. Antsirabe
Antsirabe Searching for fossils in lacustrine sediments.
Typical village in the Sambaina region, showing two-story houses made from locally-sourced bricks. Sambaina
Sambaina This region has vast expanses of flat land under cultivation (mainly for carrots and cabbage); this was once the northern part of a vast inland lake.
Mineral SpringAn active mineral spring found within the carrot fields OmbyMany people are surprised to learn that the ground floor is often reserved for livestock.
Our very final day of prospection - we had the good fortune to stumble across a local store selling homemade yogurt. Yogurt