Virtual Museum of Canada

Miguasha : From water to land (The Miguasha National Park)

Fossil digs and research

The clinking of rock hammers and the comings and goings of fossil hunters on Miguasha’s beach have become part of the daily scenery for local inhabitants.Fossil digging in 2005magnifying(96 kb) In fact, weather permitting, fossil digs have been going on almost continuously since the 1880’s.

For quite some time now, about 500 new specimens have been added each year to the collections at the Natural History Museum of the Parc national de Miguasha. The specimens are collected during systematic digs along specific sections of the cliff, or by chance sightings during patrols by the park’s conservation team. The museum collection now includes just over 10,000 specimens from Miguasha.

The main collection roommagnifying(80 kb)In the past, the main goal of fossil collecting was to gain information about a species and its anatomy. Now, fossil digs are much more systematic, and when a fossil is found, aspects other than just species and morphology are given high priority. Fossil hunters take very precise notes about the fossil’s location, the type of encasing sediments, its spatial orientation, its height within the cliff, etc. All these details, meticulously recorded, are clues that allow paleontologists to reconstruct the life of the organism and the environment in which it lived.

Whether the research is conducted on-site at Miguasha or in a laboratory elsewhere, the paleontological findings continue to help decipher the secrets of this unique fossil treasure trove and the mysteries of evolution in general.

Miguasha's laboratory

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Picture Description
Pictures of laboratories and the Miguasha reserve.

Research continues at Miguasha, where secrets encased in stone are brought to light. Scientists are attempting to trace the origin of life on earth and understand its evolution.

Fossiliferous rock is subjected to painstaking work in the laboratories. Over the years, palaeontologists using modern technologies continue to study fossiliferous content and the sediments of Miguasha.

The fossils and collection of the Parc de Miguasha constitute a unique source of wealth for Quebec’s natural heritage, in addition to representing a World Heritage Jewel.

Fossil digging in 2005

Title: Fossil digging in 2005
Author: Parc national de Miguasha
Sources: Parc national de Miguasha
Year: 2005

Preparation of an excavation site in the area of the cliff known to the people who work there as “The Channel”.

The main collection room

Title: The main collection room
Author: Canadian Geographic
Sources: Parc national de Miguasha
Year: 1997

Quebec paleontologist Richard Cloutier in the main collection room. More than 10,000 fish and plant fossils from Miguasha are kept here.