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7 real life Jurassic Parks from around the world for dinosaur lovers

Wanderlust logoWanderlust 24/10/2016 Wanderlust
A T.Rex lurking (Dreamstime) © A T.Rex lurking (Dreamstime) A T.Rex lurking (Dreamstime)

1. Jurassic Coast, Dorset/Devon, UK

The Jurassic Coast stretches for 95 miles between Exmouth in East Devon and Studland Bay in Dorset, and is the UK’s only natural World Heritage site.

The sedimentary layers here host the stories of 185 million years of Earth’s history, and fossickers and scientists alike are constantly unearthing Jurassic-era treasures.

Away from the crumbling cliffs, the area’s prehistoric past is celebrated and preserved. Exmouth have just unveiled a collection of dinosaurs throughout the city.

And in Kimmeridge, a new state-of-the-art museum, featuring a ground-breaking collection of Jurassic Coast fossils, has just opened.

Steve Etches with one of his fossils (Dermot Martin) © Provided by Wanderlust Steve Etches with one of his fossils (Dermot Martin) Steve Etches with one of his fossils (Dermot Martin)

Known as the Etches Collection, the museum is home to the extraordinary fossils found by local collector and expert Steve Etches.

Over 30 years, Etches discovered, collected and researched over 2000 late-Jurassic Kimmeridgian specimens. 

Using the latest CGI technology, the museum ‘immerses’ visitors in this world, a sometimes terrifying underwater struggle to live and survive, and brings the creatures to life as if they were modern day animals.

2. Messel Fossil Pit, Odenwald, Germany

Tucked away in the Odenwald region near Frankfurt, the Messel Fossil Pit is a rare window into the Eocene period and, in particular, the evolution of mammals.

Once a volcanic lake surrounded by tropical forest, the oil shale here has revealed such a host of prehistoric treasures that it has been declared a UNESCO world heritage site.

© Provided by Wanderlust Fossil food chain (senckenberg.de)

A visitor and information centre opened on the edge of the pit in 2010 and houses a collection of the site’s most intriguing finds.

The most popular is the remains of a prehistoric horse called Eurohippus, small enough to fit in a Lidl shopping bag.

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The pit is still offering up treasures. Paleontologists recently discovered a perfectly preserved ‘fossil food chain’ – a snake with a lizard in its stomach, which in turn had a beetle inside its stomach.

3. Dinosaur National Monument, Colorado/Utah, USA

Millions of years ago, when the USA’s southwest was not as dry and inhospitable as it is now, a sandbank at the point where the Green and Yampa rivers meet became something of a dinosaur graveyard. 

Carcasses of dinosaurs from all along the rivers washed up and got stuck here, preserved for all eternity when the sandbar turned to rock.

That ‘Wall of Bones’, a tilted layer of rock containing over 1,500 dinosaur fossils, can be viewed at the Quarry Exhibit Hallin the Dinosaur National Monumenton the Utah/Colorado border.

Admiring the Wall of Bones (NPS) © Provided by Wanderlust Admiring the Wall of Bones (NPS) Admiring the Wall of Bones (NPS)

The wall contains the remains of Allosaurus, Diplodicus and Stegosaurus, and there areknowledgeable rangers on hand to help you tell one from the other.

If you’d like to see life-sized dinosaurs, set in the land they once called home, drop by Moab Giants where you can walk amongst scarily-realist models on their dinsosaur trail.

4. Isle of Skye, Scotland, UK

At low tide on Staffin Beach on the Isle of Skye you can literally walk in the footsteps of dinosaurs when the receding sea reveals prints left by tiny dinosaurs 165 million years ago.

Should you miss the tide, the Staffin Museum nearby has casts of the prints, as well as dinosaur bones and other fossils from the areas as well.

Staffin Beach. Beautiful even when the tide is in (Dreamstime) © Provided by Wanderlust Staffin Beach. Beautiful even when the tide is in (Dreamstime) Staffin Beach. Beautiful even when the tide is in (Dreamstime)

In 2015, more fossilised dinosaur footprints, just south of Duntulm Castle.

Again, only visible at low tide, these were made by sauropods, a group of huge, long-necked dinosaurs that included the brontosaurus.

They date from the Jurassic Period and make up the biggest trackway in Scotland, prompting the Isle of Skye to declare itself the Dinosaur Isle of Scotland.

5. Cal Orcko, Bolivia

Just south of Sucre, in a quarry owned by Bolivia’s National Cement Factory, lies an extraordinary sight.

Here, amongst giant earth-moving machinery, is a huge limestone wall, covered in thousands of dinosaur footprints. Bizarrely, the footprints seemingly lead from the bottom, up the vertical wall and over the top.

Dinosaur Tracks on the Wall of Cal Orko (Dreamstime) © Provided by Wanderlust Dinosaur Tracks on the Wall of Cal Orko (Dreamstime) Dinosaur tracks leading up a wall in Cal Orcko (Dreamstime)

Scientists believe the footprints were made by a baby T.Rex, flanked each side by its parents.

They hadn’t defied gravity. The muck in which they walked solidified and went vertical when plates deep beneath the earth crashed together.

At the top of the cliff, you’ll find the Cretaceous Museum, home to 24 life-sized dinosaur models and a viewing platform that reveals the sheer magnitude of the world’s largest collection of dinosaur footprints.

6. Vallcebre, Catalonia, Spain

Dotted at sites across the world, dinosaur footprints are relatively a dime a dozen.

A recent geological survey in the village of Vallcebre near Barcelona, however, found the impression of a dinosaur’s scales, formed 66 million years ago when it lay down in the mud.

A brachiosaurus visiting Barcelona millions of years ago (Dreamstime) © Provided by Wanderlust A brachiosaurus visiting Barcelona millions of years ago (Dreamstime) A brachiosaurus visiting Barcelona millions of years ago (Dreamstime)

Scientists believe the fossil probably belongs to a large herbivore sauropod (they discovered footprints close by).

The fact that the fossil dates from the sedimentary rock period proves that it was one of the last dinosaurs to live on the planet.

7. Kronosaurus Korner, Queensland, Australia

Billing itself as Australia’s premier marine fossil museum, Kronosaurus Korner is a popular stop on Australia’s Dinsosaur Trail in western Queensland.

Here you’ll find ‘Penny' the Richmond plesiosaur (Australia's best vertebrate fossil), ‘Krono' Kronosaurus queenslandicus (a 10-metre, giant marine reptile) and ‘Wanda', Australia's largest fossilised fish.

Dinosaur chained to a fence in Australia (Dreamstime) © Provided by Wanderlust Dinosaur chained to a fence in Australia (Dreamstime) Dinosaur chained to a fence in Australia (Dreamstime)

The trail also takes in other important sites in Australia’s prehistoric history.

At Lark Quarry Conservation Park, 110 kilometres south of Winton, you’ll find the only evidence of a Dinosaur Stampede on the planet.

Closer to Winton, you’ll find the Jump-Up Lookout, home to Banjo the Australovenator and the Age of Dinosaurs Museum, featuring the largest collection of Australian Dinosaur fossils in the world.

Main image: A T.Rex lurking (Dreamstime)

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