Joggins Fossil Cliffs
Highlights of Joggins Fossil Cliffs
Introduction to Joggins Fossil Cliffs
Located along the Nova Scotia coastline in Canada, Joggins Fossil Cliffs is a paleontological site with the most complete fossil record of land life from the Carboniferous period, also called the “Coal Age.” The fossils here are representative of the iconic features of this period, establishing a world reference for this period in history.
The period dates from 354 to 290 million years ago. The fossils include remains and tracks of animals that lived in this period, as well as fossils of the rainforests where they made their home. In the area, there are remains from three different ecosystems: floodplain rainforest, estuarine bay, and forested alluvial plain. Fossils found in the area include 148 species in addition to footprints and tracks from 20 different groups. The fossils bear witness to the first appearance of reptiles on the planet and also some of the first evidence of land animals living during the “Coal Age.
Joggins Fossil Cliffs Gallery
Guide to Joggins Fossil Cliffs
The Joggins Fossil Centre is certainly one place you will want to stop. Hours vary depending on the time of year, but it is typically open at 11:00 AM on weekdays and 9:30AM on weekends. It closes at 4PM or later, depending on the time of year. However, from November 1st to April 21st, the Fossil Centre is open only by appointment. The admission fee is $8 for adults, with additional fees for guided tours.
The Joggins Fossil Centre is a state-of-the-art facility, an organic structure designed to blend in with the natural beauty of the cliffs. Visitors may be interested to know that the Fossil Centre is committed to being “green.” The building includes many green features such as solar heating, self-closing faucets, chemical free landscaping, and wind turbines.
At the Fossil Centre, visitors can navigate their way through an outdoor maze centered around evolutionary themes or view some on-site fossils. You may also want to check out the gift shop, which sells everything from books, jewelry, to work from local artisans.
One of the main attractions at Joggins Fossil Centre, however, is their guided tours. There are three different tiers of guided tours. Each is offered with different frequency and at different times, so be sure to check up on times before heading to the Joggins Fossil Centre for a tour. These tours are led by knowledgeable guides and allow visitors to see the cliffs and potentially spot fossils.
The shortest tour is the Logan tour, lasting 30-40 minutes, and gives visitors a basic understanding of how the cliffs formed and what types of fossils can be seen. It features a walk along the gravel beach near the cliffs. The Lyell tour is lengthier, taking 1.5 to 2 hours. Visitors will access the beach via a steep slope, walking across large rocks and water courses. The Dawson tour is the most intense, lasting 4 hours. Visitors must bring a lunch and are expected to traverse difficult terrain.
Video of Joggins Fossil Cliffs
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History of Joggins Fossil Cliffs
Over 300 million years ago, swamp forests in this area produced enormous amounts of organic matter. Over the course of millions of years, coal deposits formed. This is where the period gets its name from. The cliffs at Joggins, where fossils are exposed, exist because of the tides of the Bay of Fundy. After an ice cap melted over 10,500 years ago, the Earth’s crust rose and so did the shoreline, until it became “stranded.” The result is a flat area at the top of the cliff. Today, the powerful tide continues to pound relentlessly at the cliffs, creating more possibilities for fossils from the cliffs to be exposed.
The Joggins Fossil cliffs first became famous in 1851, when Charles Lyell and William Dawson visited the site. At this time, the area was already known for its many fossilized tree trunks. However, when Dawson and Lyell examined these stumps, they found tiny bones. They later realized that these were the bones of one of the first reptiles to have existed on Earth. In later studies, Dawson and Lyell found fossils of trees, millipedes, as well as the earliest land snails. Research in Joggins continued on into the twentieth century, and much of the research and fossils found by Dawson are today housed in Redpath Museum of McGill University in Montreal.
Getting to Joggins Fossil Cliffs
By bus or train:
A train station and a bus depot are located in Amherst. However, transport from Amherst to Joggins requires a car.
The two nearest airports are located in Moncton, New Brunswick and Halifax, Nova Scotia. From Great Moncton International Airport, the drive is about 1.5 hours. If you are driving from Robert L. Stanfield International Airport in Halifax, the drive is about 3 hours.
From Halifax, take Highway 102 heading north for 74 kilometers. Then, take the left exit onto Trans Canada Highway heading west. Then, take Highway 2. You will use exit 4, heading toward Amherst/Springhill. Make a left turn when you reach Albion Street and continue following Provincial Secondary route. Make a right turn when you reach Highway 302, following it for 9 kilometers. Then turn right when you reach Highway 242, continuing on toward River Hebert. Continue down Main Street until you reach the Joggins Fossil Museum, located at the very end of the street.
From Moncton, take the Trans-Canada Highway, staying on Highway 2 via exit 4 towards Amherst/Springhill. Make a right turn onto Highway 302, then turn right onto Highway 242. Continue traveling to River Hebert for 13 kilometers. Joggins Fossil Cliffs are located along Main Street, at the very end.
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