Participants at the 2020 Cape Town Triennial Conference had the opportunity to visit the West Coast Fossil Park located 150km (1.5 hours) North of Cape Town. The interpretive centre tells the story of a riverbed near the ocean 5 million years ago. The open excavation contains remains from land, ocean, and freshwater habitats in situ. The ancient riverbed remained preserved in phosphate until exposed through mining activity. The site was identified as a national monument in 1996 and recently received funding to upgrade the interpretive centre in 2017. One of the objectives of the institution is to increase educational programming on site, which comes through strongly in all aspects of the space. Our group especially loved the subterranean bug room filled with sculptures made from recycled materials.
Our group was fortunate to receive a private tour from the director of the West Coast Fossil Park, Pippa Haarhoff. She is an exceptional paleontologist with in-depth knowledge of the diverse species found at this site. Remains from whales, seal, and shark can be seen next to eland, short legged giraffes, rodents, frogs and more. View their website to learn more about the history of the West Coast Fossil Park.