Cal Orck'o: Footprints of time
Cal Orck'o: Footprints of time is part of the Tentative list of Bolivia in order to qualify for inclusion in the World Heritage List.
Click here for a short description of the site, as delivered by the state party.
- ●● Tentative
The coordinates shown for all tentative sites were produced as a community effort. They are not official and may change on inscription.
Els Slots The Netherlands 26.05.11
The Cal Orck'o (Quechua for “Chalk Mountain”) is one of three dinosaur track-sites that are competing for WH status. In 2009 I had already visited one of them, the Dinosaur Ichnite sites in northern Spain. A disappointing visit, as the tracks there are very difficult to distinguish.
This site near the Bolivian capital Sucre however is the biggest in its kind. Over 5000 imprints and 462 trackways from various different animal species have been found. They were discovered in 1994, when they were exposed by erosion on a wall disused by the nearby cement factory. The wall is 1500 meters wide and 130 meters at its highest, and contains 7 layers of track and fossil sediments. They are 68 million years old. This location used to be a shore of a former lake, where the animals left their imprints in the mud.
I got there on the touristy “Dino-truck”, that leaves three times a day from Sucre’s main square. A return ticket costs 17 bolivianos, entrance to the site 30 and another 5 for bringing your camera – so 52 bolivianos (5,20 EUR) in all, quite a European price. When you arrive after about 20 minutes driving from the center of Sucre, it looks like you’re entering the adjacent huge cement factory. The wall with the imprints is impressive as well: one almost flat surface, as if a mountain is sawn in half.
I went up right away to the viewing platform, from where you can study the wall with the tracks which is on the other side of the former quarry. Fortunately the tracks are well visible with the naked eye, they run across the whole wall. There’s also an audiovisual room on site where they show dino-documentaries (not directly related to Cal Orck’o), and a small museum where you can see some footprints in close-up. And of course there are the obligatory colourful lifesize dinosaur-models that you see at dino-parks all over the world. They even make noise!
Cal Orck'o has been rejected in 2008 from entering the List: the IUCN considered that
sites nominated on the basis of trackways alone are too narrowly focussed to be included in the World Heritage List, and that Cal Orck’o has the smallest potential out of the three trackway sites currently up for nomination (the others are in South Korea and in Spain/Portugal). They also did not like the fact that it is within an active quarry, and that the owner seems to be the cement factory. A miracle is needed to get it in – possibly in 2016 when the cement quarry will be deactivated, and more trackways (and fossils) may come to the surface. I do happen to find them quite fascinating, and I think IUCN has been too harsh in its judgement (I believe they were mainly mad because of the active quarrying by the cement factory) . In their dismissal of the Iberian Dinosaur Ichnite sites in 2010 they virtually closed the door to submissions based on trackways only. The Committee however did leave some room for further investigation and a possible serial nomination.
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- 2008 - Rejected Only national and regional significance
- 2003 - Submitted