Experts back establishing fossil museum in Penghu

CULTURAL TREASURES::Penghu could turn a shuttered science museum into one for fossils and seek the return of the artifacts on display in Chiayi, an academic said

By Lee Yu-ching and Jake Chung  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Tue, Feb 03, 2015 - Page 3

Academics are urging the Penghu County Government to set up a museum for the fossils found near Penghu in 2011, which a recent study said were the lower jawbone and the earliest specimen of Homo erectus found in Taiwan.

In a report published by the Nature Communications journal on Tuesday last week, researchers said the fossils — called “Penghu 1” — are between 190,000 and 450,000 years old. The discovery makes Penghu the easternmost place in Asia where any Homo erectus fossils have been found, it said.

Although the fossils were discovered near Penghu, they have been placed on display in Greater Taichung because the county lacks the facilities.

In light of the latest Nature Communications report, Academia Sinica researcher Tsang Cheng-hwa (臧振華) is spearheading the call — with local teacher Lin Chang-hsing (林長興), founder of the Penghu Home of Nature Science Study supporting the motion — for the Penghu County Government to consider following the example of Chiayi City, where the city government has long supported the exhibition of fossils.

Lin said that Penghu County’s closed science museum could be revived to house fossils.

Putting the fossils on display will not only be a good learning opportunity for Penghu residents, but can also open the door to tourism, Lin said.

Establishing a museum was part of Penghu County Commissioner Chen Guang-fu’s (陳光復) promise to the county, Lin said, adding that the county government could send officials to the culture center in Chiayi City, or the science museum in Taichung, to learn from them.

After transforming the shuttered science museum into a fossil museum, the county government should seek to buy back the cultural treasures scattered around Penghu, Lin said.

It could then ask Chiayi to return the archeological treasures found near Penghu, as well as contact the Taichung Science Museum and the Taitung County National Museum of Prehistory to reclaim what should rightfully be Penghu County’s precious cultural assets, Lin said.

Additional reporting by CNA