August 25: VIP Visit

Update: Download Mr. Butt’s documentation on the Centre for Himalayan Geology in PDF format.

Penn Dixie has just learned that a surprise guest will join us at our attempt to set the GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS™ title for the World’s Largest Fossil Dig on Saturday August 25 at 9 am.

Mr. Haji Abdul Majid Butt, Geoscientist and Chairperson of the Centre for Himalayan Geology in Kashmir, will serve as grand master of the dig. Mr. Butt travels from Srinagar, the largest city and summer capital of the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. Afterwards, he will tour the park and meet with our board of directors and stakeholders to further develop our partnership.

Venue Change: After the dig, Penn Dixie members are invited to a 2:30 pm reception to meet Mr. Butt at Ilio DiPaolo’s Restaurant and Banquet Facility at 3785 South Park Ave. in the Village of Blasdell — approx. two miles from Penn Dixie. Lunch and coffee are included. Members: Please RSVP to Dr. Phil Stokes at phil@penndixie.org to confirm your attendance.

In 2016, Mr. Butt and the Environmental Policy Group of Jammu and Kashmir created the Kashmir Triassic Fossil Park, an international preserve of scientific and educational value which captures evidence of Earth’s largest extinction event at the end of the Permian Period. Penn Dixie partnered with the new fossil park to offer guidance and share information with our Kashmiri counterparts.

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The Kashmir Triassic Fossil Park, Jammu and Kashmir State of India.

In many ways, Mr. Butt’s young organization reflects our organization’s early days. Just like our founders, he is working to establish the scientific value of his park, gain community and political support, preserve land for educational use, and…build a permanent educational facility on site. We are proud to work with him towards this meritorious goal.

Admission to the big dig is reduced to $5 — preregistration strongly recommended — and we will present commemorative gifts to all guests to show our gratitude for their help. Our big dig is made possible by Evans Bank, Phillips Lytle LLP, RP Oak Hill Building Company Inc., The Hanna Family, Erie County Cultural Funding, and many others.

For full details or to register, visit our dig page.

To learn more about this partnership, check out this blog post from 2016.


A.M. Butt Biography

Mr. Butt holds a Master of Science in Geology from the University of Jammu, India as well as undergraduate degrees in gemology and industrial engineering. He worked for a government cement factory for 33 years — starting as a geologist — and rose to be general manager. Following his time at the cement factory he gained a prestigious position as Kashmir Administrative Services (KAS) Officer. He also served as general manager for Ircon International — India’s infrastructure agency — on a major tunneling project. Specializing in sapphire mining, he consulted for numerous government and private interests in India and abroad as well.

Presently Mr. Butt is developing the Kashmir Triassic Fossil Park. The park is located 16 kilometers (10 miles) from Srinagar, the largest city and the summer capital of the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. He, along with local government and the state tourism department, acted to preserve and protect the land from illegal mining activities. In 2016, this goal was realized.

Besides native plants and animals, the park contains rocks and fossils from the Permian and Triassic Periods. Most notably, there is evidence of the Earth’s most deadly extinction event at the end of the Permian Period — 252 million years ago. During this global disaster 96% of all marine species — including trilobites — and 70% of all terrestrial species became extinct. Many causes are suspected.

Mr. Butt is visiting Penn Dixie to build a stronger partnership with the global community and to promote peace and tourism in his region. He would like to develop his park in the style of Penn Dixie: as an educational center, outdoor research lab, and global geological treasure. He welcomes students, scientists, and scholars to work with him and his agency towards this endeavor.

Penn Dixie’s International Friends

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The Environmental Policy Group of Jammu and Kashmir displays a commemorative plaque from Penn Dixie.

You may have read about our new partnership with the Centre for Himalayan Geology in the Buffalo News or Artvoice. With Penn Dixie’s support, The Centre is in the process of creating an international scientific attraction — the Kashmir Triassic Fossil Park — near the town of Khonmoh in the State of Jammu and Kashmir, India.

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Gangamopteris, a plant fossil found in Kashmir. Photo from geoinfo.nmt.edu.

Many of the types of fossils found at Penn Dixie are also present in Kashmir, though the species are not the same. For instance, both fossil parks have brachiopods, bivalves (clams), ammonites, gastropods, other marine invertebrates, and various plants. However, the park in Kashmir — at least as far as we can tell — does not have trilobites, as these animals became increasing scarce towards the end of the Paleozoic Era. The Permian-Triassic extinction event — which is captured in the rocks at the park — marked the end of the trilobites’ reign on our planet.

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An example of Permian foraminifera — microscopic plankton fossils found in India. Photo from http://www.nrm.se.

This massive die-off — which eliminated 90% of all marine species and 70% of all terrestrial vertebrates on Earth — led to the rise of the dinosaurs. Meteor impacts, widespread volcanism, and a runaway greenhouse effect (i.e., climate change) have been proposed by scientists as explanations for the extinction event.

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Carving of a Kashmir stag, or hangul; a gift from The Centre to Penn Dixie.

For some additional reading about the park, visit these links:

Kashmir Triassic Fossil Park coming up at Khanmoh

Kashmir Triassic Fossil Park soon to serve students across the world

Fossil park at 250 million-year-old tsunami site in Srinagar

Explore Triassic fossil, pristine Kashmir, and more! on Pinterest

Mining threat to fossil beds at protected Kashmir Site