Ischigualasto Provincial Park. Argentina
Unusual area of this park resembles the surface of Mars or the Moon. This is Ischigualasto Provincial Park which is located in the north-east of San Juan Province, in the northwest of Argentina, near the border with Chile. The Indians called the park “Vallee de la Luna”; it is the second informal name. Together with the Talampaya National Park, located in the neighborhood, the Ischigualasto Provincial Park belongs to the same geological formation – the Ischigualasto Formation.
Ischigualasto Natural Park is a paleontological center, geological formation and a natural national park. The park covers an area of 603.7 km2. It represents a vast desert valley with a variety of bizarre rock formations in the form of stone columns, mushrooms and other natural sculptures. All this makes the park one of the most beautiful locations in the whole Argentina. Gray-green ground creates the illusion of a thick layer of dust. And in the evening when the sun goes down, everything is gradually acquiring a fantastic view. Night landscape under the full moon explains the second name of the park. The game of light and shades, relief features of the landscape – all these amazes and gives a boost to the imagination.
This valley is a truly interesting finding for paleontologists. Lots of scientists and researchers eager to come here, since these lands were filled with minerals. Many remains of plants and animals, dinosaurs and other reptiles have been found here, on territory of the park. They had an evolutionary relationship with the first dinosaurs that lived here for almost 250 million years ago. First dinosaur was discovered here in 1959-1961. Also, bones of basal Saurischia dinosaurs were discovered in 1960. They belong to the Triassic period (250 million years ago).
Another discovery of the Moon Valley, Eoraptor, has stirred up the entire scientific world. Opinions of scientists are divided. Some of them consider that Eoraptor is one of the most ancient among the dinosaurs, while others believe it is too primitive for belonging to dinosaurs (its height is only one meter). Remains of another 54 different species of dinosaurs have been found and identified in the park. Some of them were found only here and nowhere else in the world. Scientists have also discovered six places with ancient rock paintings, as well as traces of the Incas. You can visit the museum of the park and look at the bones and models of dinosaurs in full-length with your own eyes.
In fact, this wonderful park is a former river valley, formed in the period from 180 to 230 million years ago. Strong winds and rains have been creating such an amazing rock relief during all the time. It is worth paying attention to such wind-eroded rock formations as The Sphynx and The Mushrooms. In addition the unimaginable rock formations, you can admire another unusual place in the park – Bowling Alley “Cancha de bochas”. This is a mysterious place where the stone balls of different sizes lie on the ground (some – up to 50-70cm in diameter). Up to now, there is no approved explanation of the origin of these balls.
Flora and fauna of the park are varied as well as the landscape.