Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Developing Fossil Sites for Education and Employment

By John Long

A combination of active scientific research and a thriving local tourism industry is the model that many countries can adapt to protect and develop their most significant fossil sites.

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

I am writing this column from Quebec, Canada, where I’ve been working with colleagues on fossil specimens that come from the World Heritage fossil site at Miguasha in the beautiful Gaspe Peninsula. This site is Devonian age, about 380 million years old, and has a diverse fauna of very well-preserved fish and plant fossils.

The site was discovered more than 150 years ago but is still actively worked each year by employees of the National Park Service. Even though all of the fossils have been described and published, there is a great deal of new research still going on at the site, with some highly significant new finds still being researched.

More significantly the site, which comprises a cliff of bluish sedimentary rock exposures along the picturesque Chaleur Bay, has a purpose-built museum sitting above it that opens each year for the summer months. At its peak it employs up to 20 locals as visitors flock to the museum to see the fossils and pay to have an hour-long tour of the fossil site by an expert guide.

The key to all of this activity is the fact that it has been made a World Heritage site and the Quebec National Parks saw an opportunity to develop the site. They did this well before it became World Heritage as it was a site in need of protection from illicit collectors. Now, because Of its designation, the site is fully protected and worked...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.