Mozambique has a rich paleontological heritage which unfortunately remains mostly unexplored due to the lack of resources and scientific expertise in the country. Over recent years, the PalNiassa project started laying the foundations for building an independent and dynamic scientific community in Mozambique by training and mentoring Mozambican students at Portuguese research institutions.
In addition, scientists from the PalNiassa project provided the expertise for designing, building and equipping a state-of-the-art laboratory for fossil preparation in Maputo. This Paleontology Laboratory was completed in July 2016 and is currently run by staff of the National Museum of Geology (Mozambique) who received training in fossil preparation and laboratory management from PalNiassa paleontologists.
Zanildo Macungo studied two specimens from a dicynodont called Endothiodon collected during the 2014 PalNiassa expedition for his undergraduate research thesis at the University Eduardo Mondlane, which he defended successfully in March 2016. His work offered a more in depth anatomical knowledge of the Endothiodon genus. Zanildo is currently receiving training to become a fossil preparator at the Laboratory of Paleontology of the National Museum of Geology (Mozambique).
Albano Nhassengo worked with fossil material from the genus Endothiodon that belong to the collection of the University Eduardo Mondlane collected in Niassa by the Mozambican geological surveys led by Jacques Verniers in the 1970’s. This is the first time that fossil from this outstanding collection are being studied, and other specimens are also currently being prepared at the new Laboratory of Paleontology. Albano is currently receiving training to become a fossil preparator at the Laboratory of Paleontology of the National Museum of Geology.
Salimo Murrula started his paleontological work in vertebrate paleontology after joining the PalNiassa expedition in 2010. He received training as a fossil preparator for about two years at the Museum of Lourinhã (Portugal). He was then accept for an undergraduate degree at the University of Minho (Portugal) which he completed in June 2016. Salimo has participated in various field expeditions and prepared many unique specimens that are currently being studied.
Nelson Nhamutole is currently head of the Laboratory of Paleontology of the National Geology Museum. He joined the yearly PalNiassa expeditions in 2012 and since joined the National Geology Museum. Nelson spent two years in Portugal attending a post-graduate course in Paleontology that included training in fossil preparation at the Museu da Lourinhã and in paleoimagiology at the Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência. Nelson is first Mozambican qualified in these fields, and under the PalNiassa project, he has also organised outreach initiatives to explain the project and divulge the Mozambican paleontological heritage in various provinces of the country including Maputo, Sofala, Nampula and Inhambane.
Other new students from the Pedagogical University of Beira and from the University Eduardo Mondlane will soon begin their internships or research training at the new Laboratory of Paleontology of the National Geology Museum.