Portugal // Estremadura and Ribatejo //

Pegadas dos Dinossáurios

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In a quarry around 10km south of Fátima, paleontologists made an extraordinary discovery in 1994 – namely the oldest and longest set of preserved sauropod tracks found anywhere in the world. The tracks date back 175 million years, and were made as the large herbivores plodded through a shallow lagoon, later preserved as limestone. They are now on display in situ at the excellent Monumental Natural das Pegadas dos Dinossáurios, where a gravel walkway circles the site on high before dropping down to the quarry floor. You can clearly see the footprints (pegadas) – hundreds of them, exceptionally well preserved – and follow their route across the stone. By the spacing, paleontologists reckon that some of the sauropods were up to 30m long. There’s an explanatory film (in Portuguese) shown at the ticket office, though it’s hard to resist the temptation to make straight for the tracks.

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