Sixty-six million years ago, in the emerged lands of Laurasia –now the northern hemisphere– a primitive land tortoise, measuring about 60 cm, managed to survive the event that killed the dinosaurs. It was the only one to do so in this area of the world, according to a Spanish palaeontologist who has analysed its peculiar fossils, found in France.
About 95 million years ago, a river turtle adapted to marine environments and made an extraordinary migration from the ancient continent of Gondwana, which grouped what is now Africa and South America, to Laurasia, the Northern continental mass of which Europe, Asia and North America were part. Its remains, found in the town of Algora in Guadalajara (Spain) and in Portugal, are the evidence of the first known dispersal event of a turtle from Gondwana.
The fountains standing next to the Museo del Prado are built using a sedimentary rock full of gastropod shells from the time of the dinosaurs. These fossils have revealed the origin of the stone: forgotten quarries in Redueña, in the province of Madrid, where the building material for the Fountain of Apollo and the Palacio de las Cortes also came from.
Pieces of sediment from the Cretaceous period encased in lava floated to the surface with the underwater eruption of El Hierro in 2011, bringing scientists valuable data on the islands’ ocean floor. The analysis of the materials matches the origin of the Canary Islands archipelago to the model of how Hawaii was formed and confirms that the oldest islands are found to the east and the youngest to the west.