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Ancient Fossils Found in Ewa Sinkholes (sep 08) Print E-mail
Written by VOK Staff   
Saturday, August 30 2008

Guy in sinkhole.jpgKapolei Property Development Preserves Ewa Sinkholes - Preserve Name for Dr. Alan C. Ziegler

A fenced six-acre parcel of land near the James Campbell Industrial Park is the site of dozens of sinkholes that are a treasure trove of ancient bird fossils, which have provided intriguing clues to Hawaii's natural and cultural history. Kapolei Property Development recently dedicated the site as the Alan C. Ziegler Preserve, honoring the late Dr. Alan C. Ziegler, a well-known zoologist and conservationist who pioneered the study of the sinkholes that led to the discovery of several extinct, previously unknown Hawaiian bird species, and championed the protection of the site.

Sinkholes were once under water

The Ewa sinkholes are part of a 120,000-year-old coral reef. As the sea retreated, it left hundreds of sinkholes that over time, were the repository of unique and extinct Hawaiian bird bones, including the Moa Nalo, a large, bizarre-looking, flightless, goose-like duck, geese, species of extinct crows, a long-legged owl, a hawk, a sea eagle, gapers, flightless rails, a small petrel, and new Hawaiian honeycreepers. New bird bones continue to be found at the site, which will reveal even more about the fascinating Hawaiian birds of the past. These finds are especially amazing, as they are known only from archaeological records. They were extinct before 1778 and unknown to science until their discovery beginning in the late 1970s.

Over the years, Ziegler and many conservation groups have led student groups on field trips to the Ewa sinkholes. With this gift from Kapolei Property Development, the site will be preserved so that future generations of students and scientists will have the opportunity to explore and learn about these sinkholes.

"These sinkholes hold important clues to Hawaii's natural and cultural history, and the rich cultural heritage of the Kapolei area," said David Rae, senior vice president of Kapolei Property Development. "We are pleased to help preserve this site for future generations who come here to learn about Hawaii's past."

Kapolei Property Development is in discussions with the Department of Land and Natural Resources to place the site in the NARS program, which protects representative samples of Hawaiian biological ecosystems and geological formations. In 1994, the NARS Commission identified the Ewa sinkholes property as "highly desirable" because of its unique topography and rich fossil record.

 




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