Friday, September 17, 2010

Dinosaurus Geopark - Hateg, Romania

The Dinosaurus Geopark (in Romanian - Geoparcul Dinozaurilor Tara Hategului) is located in central Romania in a beautiful area named "Tara Hategului".
Source: IUCN and UNEP. 2009. The World Database on Protected Areas (WDPA). UNEP-WCMC. Cambridge, UK
The European geopark concept is relatively new, was established by UNESCO in 1999 and is defined as:
A territory with a great geological heritage. A territory developing the "Geoturism" in cooperation with its inhabitants. An experimental territory inside a thematic network (detailed definition here).
 Hateg Dinosaur Geopark was recognized by UNESCO in 2004 through the effort of two great Romanian geologists, Professor Dan Grigorescu and Lecturer Alexandru Andrasanu, both with the Geology Department, University of Bucharest.  Dan Grigorescu was my first stratigraphy professor during my undergraduate studies in Romania; I clearly remember his passion for research, dinosaurs and the Hateg area.  The geopark is located between the vilages of Baru Mare to the east, and Zeicani to the west, and is surrounded by some of my favorite mountains (links to webpages in Romanian): Sureanu, Retezat, Poiana Rusca.
The geopark is famous for the assemblages of dwarf dinosaurs, numerous reptile fossil assemblages, karst cave systems and volcanic rock formations.  More details on some of the fossil sites and the park in general may be found here.  The area is heavy with history, it is indeed the "heart of the Romanian heart", as one historian put it: archeological sites including the Sarmisegetusa Ulpia Traiana fortress, which is the most important Dacian military, political and religious center; some of the oldest churches and monasteries, such as the Densus Church, believed to have been a pagan worship center before becoming a Christian church; medieval and more recent historical sites.

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