Fossils in Morocco

Fossils in Morocco

Moroccan Chronicles. Ammonites, trilobites and other ancient fossils.

Did you know that Morocco is not only oranges and Cheburashka. It is a paradise for paleontologists and their sympathizers.

Morocco has some of the richest deposits of fossils, more than 300 million years old.

Some sources say more than four hundred million years old. But to me it doesn’t make any difference – a million this way, a million that way.

So impressive in itself is this figure, not fitting in my sawdust head, but exploding my fertile imagination with incredible pictures of the terrestrial monsters that inhabited our planet.

In addition to such ancient once-living creatures, the remains of the oldest dinosaur have been found in Morocco.

And scientists are still finding the remains of previously unknown species of dinosaurs.

We didn’t see any dinosaurs, but we stopped by to look at the fossils.

Ammonites, trilobites, squids and other ocean dwellers frozen in stone.

It was as if they had all come on vacation to Morocco and were fossilized in droves.

August 27.

In the morning we got out of the embrace of the sand dunes, said goodbye to our charming camels and went to meet new adventures.

And we had a lot of adventures planned for that day.

Not so much adventures. Rather interesting things.

Fossils, ancient underground water system and one very beautiful canyon.

We will start, of course, with the most interesting, at least for me – with the fossils.

Since childhood I have a weakness for ancient animals frozen in stone.

And here it is – the happiness of a failed paleontologist.


In Morocco, fossils are so plentiful that they are mined in huge boulders, cut into slabs, and made into everyday objects ranging from small plates to huge tables.

At first it all seems to be skillfully faked fossils.


But looking at the cobblestone filled with ammonites, you realize – no, everything here is real.

Especially when you look at all the stages of stone processing.

They take such an unsightly little stone, which is literally stuffed with ancient inhabitants.


The inhabitants are not visible at first. But as soon as you pour water on the stone, the outlines begin to appear.

By the way, there are a lot of stone shells in the surrounding hotels, which look like ordinary shells made of ordinary stone. But it is worth turning on the water and wetting the stone, and immediately the inhabitants of the ancient seas appear on it.

To let the buyers of different exquisite products with inclusions of antiquities immediately see all the beauty, the stone is cut into slabs, which are carefully polished.

The workshop is full of these big slabs where it is decided what to cut the stone into.


The owner of the place cheerfully gave us a tour, showing us the raw stones, the machining, the blanks for the tables. He also told us that any table (which looked like it weighed a couple of tons) could be bought with delivery to our door.

But none of us wanted to buy a table.

Just admired the antiquities, which suddenly were at hand in the truest sense of the word.


For those who don’t know the types of shellfish, there’s a poster on the wall. So people know what they are buying.


We stopped by one of the hundreds of such factory stores.

Afterwards I wasn’t lazy (good for me, right?) and I read in the all-knowing Wikipedia that over 50,000 Moroccans are engaged in mining, processing and selling fossils. There is even a term “trilobite economy,” for the contribution of this industry to the Moroccan economy is quite significant and is measured by a ringing coin.

And like every coin, this one also has an obverse and a reverse. It is not clear how many valuable scientific discoveries were lost in such a fossil extraction.

Well, we drive on. And in the middle of the desert we see an incomprehensible freestanding house.

The second amazing place we saw that day was an ancient irrigation system.


Looking at the photographs of the environment, it is not difficult to guess that there is not much water around.

I would even say, at first glance, there is none at all.

But you have to live somehow.

That’s why people have invented a water supply system from time immemorial.

Somewhere in one place, they find water underground. They make a well.

But the well can be 50-70 kilometers away from the place where people live.

So the locals have come up with a system of underground wells and tunnels through which to move water.

A vigorous old lady, a keeper of the local places, invited us to one of such underground tunnels.


Now the tunnels are not used anymore. Somehow they do things differently with water. And a small piece of the ancient underground passages are left for tourists to see.

10.Tourists are us. And we gladly go to the underground coolness from the heat.


With the holes in the ceiling turned out to be a mess. At first we logically thought that these are the wells, where people took water from.


But it turned out that our logic is wrong and it does not work. Through these holes the earth was taken out during the construction of the tunnel.

13.And we never saw any underground water.

The local spring dried up long ago. It’s better – it is safer for tourists under the ground.

We went to the other place, to the small, but very picturesque canyon.

14. Once upon a time (today is ancient history day), the river made a passage among the rocks. And now they overhang on both sides of the road, reaching into the sky.

Once upon a time (today is ancient history day), the river made a passage among the rocks. And now they overhang on both sides of the road, reaching into the sky.


The river itself, or rather what is left of it, flows in a shallow but very cool stream.

This is why the locals love to come here. To get at least a little piece of coolness.


Adults are seated on the shore, spreading supplies on blankets or cooking them immediately on gas burners.


Someone plays musical instruments. Someone sings songs. Large companies come here.

Kids under the supervision of adults splash in the icy water.


We couldn’t resist looking at them either, so we took off our shoes and walked on the water. You can’t imagine what a thrill it was.


Coolness is very problematic in this region. On that day, for example, it was +45.

Perhaps this can explain the terrible bustle that reigned along the banks of the river.

The concentration of people per square meter of coastal stones was off the scale.


Here on the rocks you can also try your hand at rock climbing.

There are fixed ropes hanging on the walls, and instructors are standing nearby, ready to offer their services.

Such nice walls that I would love to stay here for a couple more hours to climb.


Alas. Not our case.

We walked back and forth quickly through the gorge, looked enviously at the splashing kids and drove on.


On the way we found out that the air conditioning in the car was broken. So we arrived at the hotel in a half-boiled state.

Oh, well. It happens.

But our hotel looked like an ancient castle again, and in the middle of the courtyard was a swimming pool, which beckoned:

– Dive in!


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