Monte San Giorgio (2003)
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The pyramid-shaped, wooded mountain (1,096 m above sea level), to the south of Lake Lugano in Canton Ticino is regarded as the best fossil record of marine life from the Triassic Period (245–230 million years ago). The sequence records life in a tropical lagoon environment, sheltered and partially separated from the open sea by an offshore reef. Diverse marine life flourished within this lagoon, including reptiles, fish, bivalves, ammonites, echinoderms and crustaceans. Because the lagoon was near to land, the fossil remains also include some land-based fossils including reptiles, insects and plants. The result is a fossil resource of great richness.
Switzerland issued in September 2004 one stamp depicting the neusticosaurus, a marine reptile with a maximum length of 50 cm, that are frequently found in the Triassic rock layers of Monte San Giorgio.
Monte San Giorgio is the single best known record of marine life in the Triassic period, and records important remains of life on land as well. The site has produced diverse and numerous fossils, many of which show exceptional completeness and detailed preservation.
The long history of study of the site, and the disciplined management of the resource have created a well documented and catalogued body of specimens of exceptional quality, and are the basis for a rich associated geological literature. As a result Monte San Giorgio provides the principal point of reference, relevant to future discoveries of marine Triassic remains throughout the world.
Source: "Focus on Stamps" (Swiss Post Magazine) No. 3/2004.
Other World Heritage Sites in Switzerland (on this website). Please refer to the UNESCO-listing, Switzerland-section, for more information about the individual properties,
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Revised 21 jul 2006