B Aswatha is igniting passion for fossil studies in school and college students through her lectures, and she is just 11 year old. Geologists call this Chennai 'teacher' a child prodigy who can become an authority in palaeontology - the branch of science concerned with fossil animals and plants.
Her love for fossils developed when she was just a five-year-old child looking at pictures of fossils of ammonites (extinct marine animals) while flipping through an encyclopedia. A visit to the Egmore Museum in Chennai made her a keen enthusiast of fossils.
Over the years, her parents nurtured her interest. She established rapport with experts to enhance her collection and documentation of fossils. This, she says, paved way to undertake study and collection visits to fossil rich Perambalur and Ariyalur districts of Tamil Nadu. Now she has a mini-museum kind of a collection with a variety of types of fossils including Ammonites, Echinoids, Bivalves, Lopha, Belemnite, Gastropods and Nautilus.
Talking about her dreams, Aswatha said she wants to become the best palaeontologist in the world. On her efforts to try and ignite passion for fossils in students, she says it's fascinating. She says, "It's important that every one of us learns something about history even before the evolution of human beings".
Three geological experts - Dr R Nagendra from Anna University, Dr MU Ramkumar from Periyar University and another from UAE - guide her in her quest. Dr Ramkumar says, "Aswatha is a child prodigy. Thanks to her rich inquisitive mind, I discussed with her (about fossils) for five hours, non-stop. Never have I spent that much time with anyone. Her parents nurture her well and she has to be shaped".
A student of Narayana E-Techno School at Pallavaram, Aswatha is now being invited by colleges for special lectures on fossils. Her parents T Biju and Vijayarani are thrilled about their daughter. Her mother says, "We had zero knowledge about this field. Whatever she does she invests lots of passion and love in sharpening her skills".