West Coast Fossil Park Heritage Site
The West Coast Fossil Park, located 120 kilometers north of Cape Town on the R27 roadway, offers fascinating insight into what life was like millions of years ago in this ruggedly beautiful region of South Africa. Visitors to the West Coast Fossil Park can enjoy a guided tour including the viewing of ongoing excavations of fossils that are more than five million years old.
Mining operations in the late 1950s uncovered this fossil treasure trove and further excavations yielded vast quantities of fossils of more than 200 different kinds of animals, many of which had never been seen by paleontologists before. It is believed that, in contrast with the Langebaan we know today, the area was heavily forested and was inhabited by animals adapted to that environment. Among the more than 80 mammal and 60 bird species discovered are two extinct species of elephant, a giant pig, rhinoceros, huge saber-toothed cats, a bear (the first ever found in sub-Saharan Africa), three-toed horses, and short-necked relatives of the giraffe known as sivatheres.
Due to the historical and scientific significance of the discovery, the West Coast Fossil Park has been declared a heritage site and continues to be excavated. Should you be planning a trip along the West Coast of South Africa, be sure to visit the fascinating West Coast Fossil Park to view a working fossil excavation site and find out what new discoveries have been made.