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Museo Paleontologico "Rinaldo Zardini"

The "Rinaldo Zardini" Palaeontological Museum opened in August 1975.
Its glass showcases contain millions of years of history of life on earth. A history that can be imagined by strolling among the thousands of different shapes of marine life, petrified by time, that testify to the geological and morphological evolution of this area.

This is one of the largest collections of fossils in existence today: shells of marine invertebrates, corals, sponges and the fossils of numerous animals. The fine limestone silt that covered them, provided protection against external aggression - some have even preserved their original chemical structure.
The specimens collected by the Ampezzo researcher throughout the Dolomite area that surrounds Cortina were subsequently carefully catalogued. Each was named, with an indication of where it was found and other data.

Interest in the collection has gradually grown and experts from all over the world have visited the museum, created thanks to the enthusiasm of an amateur and which has stimulated widespread curiosity.
Over the years in fact, the collection has been extended by other researchers, who have brought to light new and precious specimens of fossils, including plants. These extremely interesting finds keep open the road to scientific knowledge.
The palaeontological museum thus comes increasingly nearer to completion, a living entity in continuous evolution.


The Dolomite massifs surrounding Cortina are the result of the uplifting and folding of large rock masses, caused by tremendously powerful tectonic movements.
These phenomena ravaged an area, which about 234 million years ago, was a warm sea, dotted with rocks and atolls, rather like the Caribbean today.
Subsequent volcanic eruptions created numerous islands, and ongoing erosion produced large quantities of volcanioclastic deposits, dark rocks containing abundant plant fossils, evidence of the presence of tropical forests (230 million years ago).
Later, we see evidence of a tropical sea (229 million years ago), rich in coral reef, which is found in softer rocks such as marl and marl limestone of the so-called ‚ÄúSan Cassiano Formation‚ÄĚ.
A drop in the sea level and the emersion of large land areas drastically altereed the Dolomite mountainscape (225 million years ago): the coral reefs disappeared and extensive flat sea-beds were formed. The shallow waters favoured the growth of large bivalves and many different species of fish, as well as the appearance of the first land reptiles.
The discovery, not only of animal fossils, but also of coal and amber, testifies to the existence of luxuriant forests.
Subsequently (224 million years ago), the level of the sea rose again and, cyclically, covered the land, depositing carbon rich mud, the ‚ÄúPrincipal Dolomia‚ÄĚ, that enveloped large lamellibranchs, called megalodonts.

From this summer the Paleontological Museum is enriched by a new section dedicated to botany, the first passion of Rinaldo Zardini naturalist.

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From this summer the Paleontological Museum is enriched by a new section dedicated to botany, the first passion of Rinaldo Zardini naturalist.

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