Argentina : Ischigualasto formation - Talampaya Natural Parks. Paleontological location of Ischigualasto (Valle de la Luna)
The Ischigualasto Formation contains Late Triassic (Carnian) deposits (231.4 -225.9 million years before the present), with some of the oldest known dinosaur remains, which are the world's first with regards to quality, number and importance. It is the only place in the world where nearly all of the Triassic is represented in an undisturbed sequence of rock deposits. This allows for the study of the transition between dinosaurs and ancient mammals; research is ongoing.
Rhynchosaurs and cynodonts are by far the predominant findings among the tetrapod fossils in the park. Dinosaurs comprise only 6% of the findings, but these include early samples of the two major lineages of dinosaurs (ornithischians and saurischians). The carnivorous archosaur Herrerasaurus is the most numerous of these dinosaur fossils. Another important putative dinosaur with primitive characteristics is Eoraptor lunensis, found in Ischigualasto in the early 1990s.
Australia: Victoria Fossil Cave, Naracoorte Caves National Park
Naracoorte Caves is a national park near Naracoorte in the Limestone Coast tourism region in the south-east of South Australia (Australia).
It was officially recognised in 1994 for its extensive fossil record when the site was inscribed on the World Heritage List, along with Riversleigh. The park preserves 6 km of remnant vegetation, with 26 caves contained within the 3.05 km World Heritage Area.
The limestone of the area was formed from coral and marine creatures 200 million years ago and again 20 million years ago when the land was below sea level. Ground water since then has dissolved and eroded some of the limestone, creating the caves. The caves, such as the Victoria Fossil Cave and Blanche Cave, are often not far below ground, and holes open up creating traps for the unwary. This is the source of the remarkable collection of fossils. Mammals and other land creatures have fallen into open caves and been unable to escape. The fossil record has been preserved in strata formed from eroded topsoil washed and blown in. In some places, the fossil-bearing silt is up to 20 metres thick. Some of these areas are being preserved for future research when better methods of dating and reconstructing fossil records may have been found. These fossil traps are especially significant for tracing Australian megafauna.
In 1835 danish paleontologist Peter Lund decided to
settle in Lagoa Santa, in the state of Minas Gerais, finding the perfect
place to live and develop his work quitely. In nine years of research he
explored more than a hundred caves, and found about 120 fossil species and
94 belonging to the current fauna. He thus became the Father of Brazilian
Paleontology. These findings were of great importance for the studies
undertaken by British naturalist Cahrles Darwin on the Theory of
In 1844, Lund ended his work in the cave, and took a new direction in his research. In 1845, he sent his magnificient collection to the University of Copenhagen in Denmark and then devoted himself to botany. Currently this rich colection is at the Zoological Museum in Copenhagen.
is a paleontological site in the Al Fayyum Governorate of Egypt, some 150 km southwest of Cairo. It was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in July 2005 for its hundreds of fossils of some of the earliest forms of whale, the archaeoceti (a now extinct sub-order of whales). The site reveals evidence for the explanation of one of the greatest mysteries of the evolution of whales: the emergence of the whale as an ocean-going mammal from a previous life as a land-based animal. No other place in the world yields the number, concentration and quality of such fossils, as is their accessibility and setting in an attractive and protected landscape. This is why it was added by the UNESCO to the list of protected World Heritage sites.
The fossils found at the site may not be the oldest but their great concentration in the area and the degree of their preservation is to the extent that even some stomach contents are intact. The presence of fossils of other early animals such as sharks, crocodiles, sawfish, turtles and rays found at Wadi El-Hitan makes it possible to reconstruct the surrounding environmental and ecological conditions of the time, adding to its justification to be cited as a Heritage site.
The first fossil skeletons of whales were discovered in the winter of 1902-3.For the next 80 years they attracted relatively little interest, largely due to the difficulty of reaching the area. In the 1980s interest in the site resumed as four wheel drive vehicles became more readily available. Continuing interest coincided with the site being visited by fossil collectors, and many bones were removed, prompting calls for the site to be conserved. The remains display the typical streamlined body form of modern whales, yet retaining some of the primitive aspects of skull and tooth structure. The largest skeleton found reached up to 21 m in length, with well-developed five-fingered flippers on the forelimbs and the unexpected presence of hind legs, feet, and toes, not known previously in any archaeoceti.
Their form was serpentine and they were carnivorous. A few of these skeletal remains are exposed but most are shallowly buried in sediments, slowly uncovered by erosion. Wadi El-Hitan provides evidences of millions of years of coastal marine life.
Germany: Messel Pit
The Messel Pit (German: Grube Messel) is a disused quarry near the village of Messel, about 35 km (22 mi) southeast of Frankfurt am Main, Germany. Bituminous shale was mined there. Because of its abundance of fossils, it has significant geological and scientific importance. After almost becoming a landfill, strong local resistance eventually stopped these plans, and the Messel Pit was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site on 9 December 1995. Significant scientific discoveries are still being made, and the site has increasingly become a tourism site as well.
Solnhofen is a municipality in the district of Weißenburg-Gunzenhausen in the region of Franconia in the Land of Bavaria in Germany. It lies within the Altmühl valley. The local area is renowned in geology for Solnhofen limestone. This is a very fine grained limestone from the Jurassic period which is renowned for its role as a Lagerstätte that preserves detailed fossil specimens. Alois Senefelder used specially prepared blocks of the fine Solnhofen limestone for the process of lithography which he invented in 1798. The quarrying of this lithographic limestone subsequently yielded spectacular finds, including Archaeopteryx, commemorated in the bird's full name Archaeopteryx lithographica. All eleven known specimens have come from the Solnhofen area.
The Dunarobba fossil forest nearby Avigliano Umbro, has been discovered in the 70s, but the work to bring it up to surface are not yet finished. All the trees belong to a family of sequoia which used to be present in this part of italy more than one million years ago. The particularity with this forest is that the trees lay in vertical position and not horizantally as it is the case for other fossil forests. This would confirm the theory that a flood could have overwhelmed the forest preserving it in the shape we admire today. The fossiles have enormous dimensions: 1.5 m in diameter and between 5 and 10 meters in high.
Latest update 20.02.2018
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