Här är nästa gäst-blogginlägg av journalisten Shah Jee från Pakistan – trevlig läsning!
By Shah Khalid Shah Jee
Atlas Khan Sherani has been collecting specimens from deserts and mountains for the last five years. He believes that these specimens can help new generations have a better future and make plans to protect themselves from danger. Atlas Khan collects simple stones which were living things several thousand years ago but now, due to unexpected climate change impacts and phenomena have been converted into nonliving things.
Khan is a science teacher in his village school Darazinda Old F.R D.I Khan Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in Pakistan. He explains that some years ago, he taught biology to 10th class students and talked to them about fossils. They did not understand what he was talking about and asked him many questions about the topic. In order to educate his students about fossils, he went to the mountains near his village and found some fossil samples. When he showed them to the students and told them more about them, they showed a keen interest and easily learned and understood what fossils are. Because of the interest shown by these students, he decided that he would like to do more work on this topic in the future so he can help Pakistani students and new generations in the research field. He explained how fossils are made. Fossils begin to be created when living things come under specific environmental pressures. After about ten thousand years, they are automatically converted to stone but their body structure remains unchanged. The places where Mr. Khan collected samples are now completely dry land but, according to him, research revealed that several thousand years ago, these places were at the bottom of the ocean. Due to the impact of climate change, the water dried out and the land became desert, as it is now.
Mr. Khan has many samples of fish, turtles, shells, and plants in stone. When people look at them, they can clearly and easily identify these animals and objects by their faces and physical structures. Now his family members and the students from his school help him find these stones. He said that the first time that the villagers learned that he was collecting stone samples in the mountains, they told him that he was wasting his time. But later, after he distributed the samples in his local schools and colleges, the teachers saw that the students were learning something completely new. Now they understand the benefits of his research work and they collect stones for him when they are outside or travelling even if they cannot tell if they are fossils or just simple stones. They are now taking a keen interest in his work.
Mr. Khan’s wife Shabana says that the first time her husband collected stones, she thought this was a very unique thing to do, and later understood that her husband’s work is very important for the education of the country’s students and for future research. He is now sharing his research with the country’s educational institutions. When she saw how interested the students were in her husband’s work, she decided to help him and now feels proud that, thanks to the work of their family, not only students but the general public have the opportunity to learn about a new subject. It is very difficult to do thorough research and understand what the environment was like thousands of years ago, and full knowledge and understanding requires a university degree in the subject. Initially Mr. Khan learned about fossils so he could teach his students about them, but he did further research about them that he has now taught to college and university level students. He explains that this is a very rich field of knowledge and there are many things that still need to be discovered through further research.
According to climate change experts, because of research on fossils, we have a lot of information about why some animals went extinct, why the environment changed, what food people ate in ancient times, what their lifestyles were like, and what diseases or health related problems they suffered from. According to Mr. Khan there is no separate Department of Planetology at any university in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, but when he visited Kohat University and donated some sample fossils to different departments, met the staff and discussed the fossils, they suggested that they will open a Planetology department in the future. He assures his full support and cooperation to them. Mr. Khan also intends to give some fossil samples to the Punjab province and the northern region of Pakistan soon. He has asked the Government of Pakistan to help him give some fossils to our neighbour country Afghanistan’s educational institutions as a goodwill gesture of peace. Mr. Khan has been a school teacher for the last 28 years. He has in the last five years donated fossil samples to 95 educational institutions and he intends to enthusiastically continue his unique work in the future.