M: Palm trees rustling, water plashing on the beach, somewhere in the distance, the bellow of a rutting crocodile in search of a female...
F: That, or something very like it, may well have been the scene playing out in this area some 25 million years ago, long before Siegburg existed. The water table was much higher then – and the region surrounding present-day Siegburg was on the sea-shore, complete with fan palms and cypresses. There was a warm, sub-tropical climate, and rhinos lived here as well as crocodiles. But it was also a habitat for frogs, fish and insects that are now more at home in warm Mediterranean countries.
M: In the room on the right, you’ll find evidence of this period – the showcases contain fossils of numerous insects, as well as many species of fish and amphibians, and even a number of mammals. Among the plant finds, the fossilised palm trees are an indication of the subtropical climate in the Siegburg area, while a crocodile’s foot provides similar evidence from among the animals.
F: In the display case between the two windows, you can even see what’s known as a coprolite, a clot of fossilised crocodile faeces.
M: The fossils were all found in Hennef-Rott, just under 15 kilometres from here – that’s less than 10 miles. In the 19th century, a type of shale called sapropelic coal was mined there, which had been deposited at the bottom of a freshwater lake in oxygen-poor conditions. The fossilised plants and animals were discovered in the resulting sapropel.
F: If you’d like to find out what the climate will be like in 2064 – and your language skills are up to it –, German TV weatherman Sven Plöger will show you at our media station.
M: Please head past the stuffed Nile crocodile – on loan from the Alexander Koenig Museum in Bonn – and move on into the next room.
Fotos: © Dagmar Trüpschuch