Hunting for Fossils

La Esperanza wildlife refuge encompasses a coastal strip full of wildlife — 81 species of animals, including marine mammals and birds.  In an echo of Darwin, who uncovered ancient fossil beds demonstrating the inexorable passage of geologic time, the area is also an excellent site to hunt for shells in hilly crevasses located high above water.

Hiking towards the coast

Seals at the cliff face

Over the course of his travels in South America, Darwin collected an array of fossils spanning a vast era of geologic time, from a few thousand to 400 million years ago.  Ancient fossils provided evidence of some of the oldest life known at the time, whereas intermediate fossils reflected changes in the earth’s biota through time.  Unearthing mollusc fossil shells on plains above beaches, Darwin concluded that much of South America had been uplifted in fairly recent geologic time.

A large shell embedded high up above the beach
Large shells embedded high up on the hill. Most fossils found at La Esperanza belong to the “Puerto Madryn Formation.” Layers feature large oyster beds.

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