west coast fossil park

About the West Coast Fossil Park

Five million years ago the Cape west coast was very different from what it is today with a wide range of now extinct animals living in riverine forests, wooded savanna, the adjacent sea and on offshore islands. Phosphate mining operations at Langebaanweg uncovered one of the richest fossil sites in the world. Over the past 40 years bones of 200 different kinds of animals, many of them new to science have been recovered. A few years after mining operations ceased in 1993, a 14 ha fossil-rich area within the mine property was declared a National Heritage Site. Iziko Museums of Cape Town and SAMANCOR launched the Fossil Park in 1998 to bring palaeontology to the public.

The first phase of the West Coast Fossil Park was launched by Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism, Dr Pallo Jordan on 22nd September 1998. Guest speakers included Mrs Evita Bezuidenhout, Dr Mike Cluver, Mr Mike Salamon, Mr Wynand Dreyer and Ms Laurine Platzky. A test trench was excavated by a contract Archaeology team from UCT and the remains of several extinct giraffes called sivatheres were uncovered and left “in situ” for public viewing. This first phase also included the renovation of the old Chemfos mine office block to provide a display area, lecture room, laboratory, offices, tea room, curio shop and research accommodation for a team of up to 12 people.

Map of the west coast