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Palaeontology in the Languedoc:    Excavating dinosaurs at Espéraza

Rocks deposited during the latest part of the Cretaceous period (75 to 65 million years go) yield abundant bones and eggs of dinosaurs.  Bones and nests are being discovered in the soft Cretaceous soil to the west of the town.

Large scale palaeontological excavations have been carried out in the vicinity since 1989.  In 1992, this scientific research resulted in the establishment at Espéraza of the first museum solely dedicated to dinosaurs in Europe.  It is located in the old railway station at Espéraza and displays 35 different species.  

A palaeontology workshop initiates children (6-12 years olds) into archaeological digging and skeleton reconstruction.  5 minutes away, near Campagne, the largest archaeological digging area in Europe is open to the public for guided tours.  Volunteer excavators are also welcome.  

Eva, an Ampelosaurus specimen, the most complete dinosaur skeleton ever found in France and was discovered in deposits around 72 million years old at Campagne-sur-Aude, close to the Dinosaur Museum in Espéraza. The animal is estimated be around 12 meters long, 2.5 meters tall and weighing 10-15 metric tons. It appears to be juvenile, as some adult bones found in the area are about twice as large. The specimen was discovered in August 2001 by Eva Morvan, a geology student who provided the nickname "Eva". The find was a major media event in France, and made the national newspapers in the UK.

. Getting there. Espéraza lies on the D118, south of Carcassonne and Limoux and sixty kilometers west of Perpignan.

Excavations at the Bellevue site are carried out during July and August by volunteers. 

Volunteers.  The dig is open to anyone interested. Volunteers work for 1 to 3 weeks.  Except for membership of the Association (the fee for which covers insurance) and a minimum age requirement of 18 years, there are no prerequisite qualifications.

Potential volunteers should send the museum curator a letter and a CV before April.  Responses are mailed during May, (there may be more volunteers than places available).  Successful applicants are provided with food and accommodation in nearby Espéraza.

Activities revolve mainly around the extraction of fossil bones (approximately 200 every summer) under the guidance of palaeontologists.  As a volunteer you have access to the museum laboratory.  During this period you can learn techniques (such prospecting, fossil excavation and preparation) and improve your knowledge of the subject.

Contact Details.  For more information, visit http://www.dinosauria.org/, or contact the museum :

Musée des Dinosaures,
11260 Espéraza, France
tel: 04 68 74 26 88,    04.68.74.02.08    fax: 04 68 74 05 75
E-mail : contact@dinosauria.org


For more information about the Market Town of Esperaza, click here

 

Esperaza Dinosaur Museum Photo Gallery

 

   
 
     
 
     
   
     
       
 
       
     
       
     
   
   
     

 

 

 

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