A fossil marine mammal on a street of Girona (Spain)

This photograph was taken in October on a street of Girona (Spain), when a group of palaeontologists removed a limestone pavement slab with a remarkable fossil. Why was this fossil so important?


Invertebrate urban fossils, such as bivalves, gastropods and ammonoids, are ubiquitous in building stones. However, vertebrate fossils are quite hard to find in building stones because they are much less common. Therefore, when local geologist Roger Mata Lleonart (@RogerMLL) saw this peculiar fossil on the pavement of a street of Girona in a rainy afternoon, he was quite puzzled. Roger shared this photograph on Twitter and, with the help of the geographer and urban-fossil-enthusiast Xisco Xavier Roig (@xiscoroig), discovered that it was the skull of a sirenid, commonly known as sea cow.


This extraordinary fossil soon became widely known. The finding was even reported by local newspapers and the owner of the nearby cafeteria complained about having too many people around looking for the fossil.

Dr. Oliver Hampe and Dr. Manja Voss, two experts on extinct sea cows from the Museum für Naturkunde (Berlin), visited Girona to investigate this fossil. The limestone slab was removed for investigation and replaced with a slab of the same material. This specimen was analysed using a Computed Tomography Scan in a medical centre in order to get a three dimensional image of the fossil.


More information:

Fossils under your feet: Ancient sea cow found in Spanish street
Seacows on the street

Roger Mata Lleonart and Xisco Xavier Roig

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