Time has left its mark, etching it in stone. Ancient species tell their stories and come alive before our eyes.
These words will ring true to anyone visiting Ischigualasto Provincial Park, (Moon Valley) in San Juan Province and Talampaya National Park, in La Rioja Province.
The Triassic Ischigualasto – Talampaya Basin is geographically included in the Ischigualasto and Talampaya Parks. The whole area was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO (Ischigualasto – Talampaya Site) and is regarded by scientists worldwide as a geological haven.
Coming from the vastness of Time, these remains allow for a better understanding of where we came from.
The University of San Juan Natural Science Museum keeps a collection in the Park for paleontological study purposes and educational value.
Visitors would otherwise not be able to fully appreciate Ischigualasto’s paleontological value. All specimens found in Ischigualasto since 1970 have been kept by the Museum, which makes it the world’s main collection of vertebrate fossils from the Upper Triassic period to date.
Animal and plant fossils have been preserved on this site which bears testimony to 45 million years of our planet’s evolution. The period which lasted from 250 to 205 million years ago is what is known as the Triassic period. The whole Triassic is represented in the Park in an undisturbed sequence of rock deposits, which lie in front of us like pages off a giant book.
Time speaks to us through these rocks. Travelers can but hope to glimpse the magic flow of aeons. Let your senses be overwhelmed.
The Ischigualasto Provincial Park(Moon Valley) is located in the far North of San Juan Province, in Valle Fértil, 330 kilometres from the city of San Juan.
Although a number of geological basins harbouring Triassic fossils can be found worldwide, the Ischigualasto Basin stands out from the rest both in terms of the sheer number and diversity of vertebrate fossils found, particularly those from the Upper Triassic, around 230 million years before the present.
The Park’s vertebrate fossils correspond to 25 different kinds of animals belonging to various groups.
Findings include: some of the oldest dinosaurs known, usually carnivorous, herbivorous and smaller-sized; the predecessors of crocodiles, ferocious land predators rivaling dinosaurs; ancient mammals, both herbivorous and carnivorous and varying greatly in size;
dicynodonts, a lineage of herbivores long extinct; a great number of rhyncosaurs and other ancient reptiles, which stood at the bottom of the carnivores’ food chain.
Wine Tourism in La Rioja
The Park contains a virtually undisturbed sequence of plant fossils from the Middle Triassic right through to the Upper Triassic. The state of preservation for some samples is astounding. In other cases, however, only roots, spores and polen have been preserved.
Other findings include mineralized tree trunks, branches, leaves and bushes which have become wholly mummified, thereby offering insights into their life history and later preservation.
Witness how life came into being. Marvel at these stunning records.
Stunning walls, cryptic fossil remains and rock paintings from pre-historic times are at hand for everyone to enjoy. Past and present blend into one and unfold right before your eyes.
The Park is located in central western La Rioja Province and covers and area of 215,000 ha.
The Park’s rock formations attest to the planet’s evolution for a period of over 45 million years, witnessing the time when the supercontinent of Pangea began to divide (over 250 million years ago).
Talampaya National Park
The Talampaya Formation is made up of reddish and drab gray rock deposits. The strata are mostly made up of sandstorm, deposited by alluvial fans coming down the sides of the basin. Over the course of millions of years, the rocks were eroded into shapes you can recognize such as The Three Wise Men, the Chessboard, the Cathedral and the Friar, among others, in an area called “Ciudad Perdida” (Lost City).
The Park has remarkable paleontological value due to its abundant fossil remains. Samples found include Lagosuchus talampayensis, one of the earliest dinosaurs to inhabit the Earth 250 million years ago, in the Early Triassic; turtle fossils (210 million years old) have also been found, such as Palaeocheris talampayens.
The samples mentioned above and many others found in the Park allow for the study of the transition between ancient reptiles and early mammals. Scientists ultimately seek to discover how and when the first dinosaurs came into being. Research is ongoing.