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Paleontology in Chile

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Start your tour of Chile's distant past in Santiago at the Paleontological Museum of Chile (located in the small "village" inside Parque O'Higgins). Here you'll find mammoth teeth, shark, plesiosaur and glyptodon remains, dinosaur eggs, a titanosaurus embryo and plant fossils. The beautiful neo-classical building (1830) that houses the Museum of Natural History has a room dedicated to vertebrate fossils from Mesozoic era, including a spectacular dinosaur (the Carnotaurus sastrei).

Those who prefer field trips can visit the Mylodon Cave just 24 km from Puerto Natales, which consists of three caverns and a rock formation known as the Devil's Chair. The remains of a pre-historic herbivore (Mylodon darwini) related to the sloth were discovered here. The creature, which had large claws and stood out thanks to its colossal size, was a contemporary of the area's first hunters and became extinct during the Pleistocene era. The cave entrance features a replica of the animal, which was called the mylodon.

The Formación Bahía Inglesa in the northern part of the country is without a doubt Chile's most important deposit of fossils, holding the remains of more than 70 species. If you want to travel back to this bygone era – when the desert area was still fertile – your best bet is to visit the Paleontological Museum of Caldera, which is housed in Chile's first train station. Its large collection includes the skull of a 10 million-year-old whale.

The Pichasca Natural Monument near La Serena is another of Chile's Jurassic destinations. Located 56 km from Ovalle, this protected natural area has petrified tree trunks, rock-encased dinosaur fossils, and a rock formation that provided shelter for humans 10,000 years ago. Models that replicate these finds are on display. Visiting this place also provides a terrific reason to go trekking.


Featured Destinations

aSan Pedro de Atacama bAntofagasta and Calama
cCopiapó dLa Serena and Coquimbo
eHighlights of the Central Valley fSouthern Patagonia


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