Cretaceous Coastline Submitted to UNESCO for World Heritage Status

It is not just the Chinese who have been finding dinosaur fossils over the last few years in Asia, the South Koreans have been getting in on the act to.  Such is the diversity and richness of the South Korean fossil sites that the country’s Cultural Heritage Administration (CHA) has nominated part of the Korean coastline with extensive fossil bearing sediments from the Cretaceous for World Heritage Status.

Gaining World Heritage Status is a huge undertaking, it would rank this part of Korea alongside places like the Great Barrier Reef, the Grand Canyon and the Galapagos Islands.  Team members from Everything Dinosaur remember all the hard work that went into helping the Dorset and East Devon coasts to be awarded World Heritage Status.  The award was finally granted in December 2001 and the UK’s “Jurassic Coast” came into being, a world-wide recognised important scientific and conservation area.

CHA administrators report that the application for the nomination of this particular site (and one other within Korea), have taken place.  The review process is very lengthy with a decision by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee taking perhaps as long as two years.

The Korean Cretaceous Dinosaur Coast features numerous locations of fossilised dinosaur eggs, individual footprints and trackways throughout the southern coast of Korea. This area is considered the world’s largest grounds of various fossilised eggs and footprints of dinosaurs from the Cretaceous period.  It is likely the area will yield even more discoveries as much of the region’s geology has yet to be fully studied and explored.

Fossil sites are found in the provinces of  South Jeolla and South Gyeongsang.  These sites have yielded a large number of dinosaur fossil bones, eggs and trace fossils such as trackways.

Dinosaur Trackways – Typical of the Trackways to be found in the Nominated Area

Picture Credit: Korean Times

If you look carefully at the picture you can judge the scale of the tracks by observing the two scientists in the picture,one is sitting on the far left, the second is looking back over the tracks and is sitting towards the right of the picture.

UNESCO seeks to encourage the identification, protection and preservation of cultural and natural heritage around the world, considered to be of outstanding and universal value to humanity.  Although the criteria for inclusion were revised in 2004, it is still an extremely difficult status to obtain.

We wish the Korean team every success with their efforts.  Perhaps the Korean palaeontologists will one day upstage the US and Chinese with their fossil finds.

Korean palaeontologists have already made a huge contribution to helping scientists understand more about animals from the Mesozoic.  Their work has led to the renaming of perhaps one of the largest dinosaurs ever to roam the Earth.  Partial remains of a huge Sauropod (long-necked dinosaur) were discovered in Colorado in 1979.  Estimates made at the time from the very incomplete specimens indicated a Brachiosaur-like animal with a length exceeding 30 metres.  The animal was named Ultrasaurus as a result of its huge size.  However, this dinosaur had to be renamed when it was pointed out to the Americans that the name Ultrasaurus had already been used by Korean scientists for a Sauropod (a much smaller one, only about 8 metres long), that had been discovered in Korea some years before.

The giant dinosaur remains from Colorado were named Ultrasauros to ensure that there would be no further confusion.

The name Ultrasauros is still classified as a “nomen dubium”.  This is the term used by palaeontologists to describe the name of an animal that has yet to be validated and proven to be a separate genus.  Scientists still debate whether Ultrasauros was a valid genus or just an exceptionally large Brachiosaur.  Until more remains are unearthed in Colorado the debate is likely to rumble on.

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