Ischigualasto and Talampaya Natural Parks (Argentina)

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Ischigualasto and Talampaya Natural Parks (Argentina)

Sun, 11/18/2018 - 17:58
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These two contiguous parks, Ischigualasto and Talampaya, in the Sierra Pampeanas, contain the most complete continental fossil record known from the Triassic Period. Six geological formations contain fossils of a wide range of ancestors of mammals, dinosaurs, and plants.

Ischigualasto and Talampaya Natural Parks

The Ischigualasto and Talampaya Natural Parks combine to form a World Heritage Site in the northern part of central Argentina. They comprise two adjoining protected areas: Ischigualasto Provincial Park in San Juan Province and Talampaya National Park in Rioja Province.

The two parks in the Cuyo region jointly cover 275,369 ha (680,450 acres) west of the Sierras Pampeanas. It is an arid region in the rain shadow of the Andes Mountains and contains important archaeological values, including 1500-year-old petroglyphs.

  • Ischigualasto Provincial Park: also called Valle de la Luna ("Valley of the Moon or "Moon Valley"). The (60,369 ha or 149,175 acres) protected area is part of the western border of the Central Sierras. It features typical desert vegetation (bushes, cacti and some trees) and covers 10 - 20% of the area.

    The climate is arid, with rainfall mainly during the summer and temperature extremes. There is a constant southern wind with a speed of 20 - 40 km/h (12 - 25 mph) from noon until the evening, sometimes accompanied by the mighty Zonda wind.

  • Talampaya National Park: covers an area of (215,000 ha or 531,275 acres), at an altitude of 1,500 m (4,920 ft) above mean sea level. Its purpose is to protect important archaeological and palaeontological sites found in the area.

    The park is in a basin between the Cerro Los Colorados to the west and the Sierra de Sañagasta to the east. The landscape is the result of erosion by water and wind in a desert climate, with large ranges in temperature (high heat by day and low temperature at night) with torrential rain in summer and strong wind in spring.

The parks are in the Argentine Monte ecoregion, a warm scrub desert along the Eastern Andean foothills. Against the backdrop of an attractive mountain landscape, the property is a scientific treasure of global importance.

It harbors the sedimentary Ischigualasto-Villa Union Triassic Basin, consisting of continental sediments deposited during the entire Triassic Period. As a result, this Basin boasts an exceptionally complete record and sequence of plant and animal life in the geological period from roughly 250 to 200 million years ago, representing the origin of both dinosaurs and mammals.

Six distinct sedimentary formations contain the fossilized remains of a wide range of ancestral animals and plants, revealing the evolution of vertebrates and detailed information on palaeoenvironments over the approximately 50 million years of the Triassic Period and the dawn of the "Age of the Dinosaurs." The ongoing scientific discoveries are invaluable for understanding paleontology and evolutionary biology.

Exceptional landscape features include red sandstone cliffs reaching 200 m (656 ft) in height in Talampaya National Park and, in Ischigualasto Provincial Park, white and multicolored sediments creating a stark landscape. The site has sparse desert vegetation, characterized by xeric shrubs and cacti, with interspersed trees.

The desert environment contains several rare and endemic species of flora and fauna.