The Ipolytartnóc Fossils
Hungarian Ministry of Cultural Heritage, Secretariat of the Hungarian Committee of the World Heritag
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The Ipolytarnóc Fossils Nature Conservation Area is a Natural property. It preserves, within a comparably small area the most unique geological and palaeontological phenomena, features and complexity of the Neogene epoch of the Earth's history. From the 24 million-year-old shallow sea sediments to the 19 million-year-old volcanic rocks the area's strata cover a very important part of the geohistory with abundant, world-wide famous fossil content.
Having buried the paleoenvironment, rhyolite tuff flows have preserved the original morphology of the land surface, its vegetation and traces of its animal kingdom.
Lots of vanished species have been described here, some of them as holotypes. Sharks teeth, bones, traces, leaf impressions, giant petrified trees are the most important ones.
The history of the Ipolytarnóc finds has been a chain reaction of discoveries that can be traced back to the late 18th century. Natural erosion had exposed the giant petrified tree trunk from the volcanic layers which as a natural "stone bridge" spanned the "Borokas" ravine with its 42 m length. These phenomena attracted the attention of the people who started to visit the site.
The scientific importance of the area was discovered in 1836 when the first excavations on the property started. At the beginning, the fossils were collected and taken to far away museums, the finds' in situ protection was not the scientists main concern.
A cellar, as the first protection shelter of the fossils, was built in 1866 by the initiative of the Hungarian Royal Academy above the lower, most endangered part of the petrified tree, but this effort did not prove to be effective without any legal action and guarding. The cellar was demolished by both the private collectors and the local people.
More and more visitors were attracted to the site by the famous fossils having no protection were really damaged the natural values. At the railway station of the neighbouring village the interested ones could buy silicified tree parts or sharks teeth as "petrified bird tongues". The locals and tourists collected the fossils from the site without any restrictions.