One of the many aspects that we enjoy about Morocco is the scope for new discovery. Take, for example, the hours we have spent on the hunt for meteorites in the desert (likely to no avail!) but always offering the chance of discovery…
The closest we came recently to a collection of bona fide meteorites was at the Centre Culturel outside Marrakech. Open just two years, it houses a wonderful display of not only meteorites (fragments of the Tissint and Tamdaght falls) but also fossils (of coral and trilobites), precious stones/gems, and minerals, showcasing the richness of Morocco’s geological footprint.
Our visit to the Centre also sparked our interest in fossils. We discovered there that the Draa Valley, or more accurately 500km square north of Zagora, had provided scientists with an exceptional find of well-preserved marine fossils. This region happens to be one of only a handful of other sites, globally, to offer such a marked abundance of soft-bodied fossil preservation (other sites as far afield as South Africa, Canada, China). The fossils were unearthed by chance by a local collector in the late 1990’s!
Dating from around 480-472 million years ago, the rock strata (Fezouata Formation) preserved the fossils of soft-bodied animals. The marine life was thought to be from deep waters (likely when North Africa was part of a supercontinent in the southern hemisphere).
This extraordinary discovery near Zagora completed an important window of time in the history of animal life*. The fossil find was published in the international science journal ‘Nature’ in 2010 – please click for the article nature.com.
We encourage a visit to the Centre Culturel!
*i.e. between the Cambrian and Great Ordovician Biodiversification Event