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World Heritage Site

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Joggins Fossil Cliffs

Joggins Fossil Cliffs
Photo provided by Gary Arndt

The Joggins Fossil Cliffs is famous for its record of fossils dating to the Pennsylvanian "Coal Age" of earth history, approximately 310 million years ago.

The cliffs are continually hewn and freshly exposed by the actions of the tides in the Cumberland Basin.

The fame of Joggins dates to the mid-nineteenth century, and the visits in 1842 and 1852 by Sir Charles Lyell, the founder of modern geology and author of Principles of Geology. The fossil record at Joggins also figures in Darwin's "On the Origin of Species", and played a role in the Great Oxford Debate of 1860 between Bishop Wilberforce and Thomas Huxley.

Much of the fossil record at Joggins was discovered by Nova Scotian geologist Sir William Dawson (1820-1899), who had a close personal and working relationship with Sir Charles Lyell. Investigations by Dawson led to the discovery of one of the most important fossils in the history of science, Hylonomus lyelli, which remains the earliest known reptile in the history of life.

Map of Joggins Fossil Cliffs


  • Natural

Community Reviews

Wojciech Fedoruk Poland 26-Oct-14

Joggins Cliffs are located in Northern Nova Scotia, near the border with New Brunswick. The billboards are clearly visible from both directions of the main Trans-Canadian road so it is easy to find the place even without GPS.

After my slight disappointment with Miguasha Park, I did not expect too much from another fossil site of Eastern Canada. But in fact, Joggins is much more interesting.

Unlike in Miguasha, the most interesting part of this site are cliffs and beach. Although it was extremely windy the day I visited Joggins (so windy that my 2-year-old son could not stand without keeping parent's hand on the beach), the visit was very interesting. You can do it on your own or with a guide and I recommend the second option, as it is easy to miss the most important parts of the cliffs. We started the tour from a place where there was a coal layer among other rocks. Then you move to remains of an ancient tree aged 300 million years! The most funny part is that you can touch it, take photos etc., so it is not comparable with any museum (by the way, the museum in Joggins is also interesting). The beach tour did not take long but was one of the most remarkable experiences during my 14-day trip to Canada.

Cynthia Webb, USA 11-Nov-11

We visited the Joggins Fossil Cliffs in June 2010. We got there while the tide was still high, so we spent some time in the museum, had lunch, and were amazed how quickly the tide went out! Within an hour of our arrival we were able to go down the beach and explore. The cliffs are amazing--layer upon layer of rock and sediment deposited over millions of years. Fossils are easily found on the beach, and new material is brought in by the tide twice a day. Truly amazing.

Emilia Bautista King USA 22-Aug-11

The fossil cliffs were really amazing, especially with the Bay of Fundy (known to have the highest tides in the world) right there beside them. We arrived there just in time for a tour with a docent, who took us to the beach during low tide. My daughter loved beachcombing for seaglass, which people are allowed to take. Fossils and rocks are prohibited for taking. Our docent was knowledgeable about the area and was available for people's questions, even after the tour. The centre is just as impressive, as it houses the fossil of the oldest reptile in the world. It also takes children into account and has a cave-like movie area in which one needs to crawl to enter. Stay in the centre for lunch, as the food is tasty and fairly priced. The souvenirs are also high quality. A couple of things to note: 1) the tour is a separate price from the entrance fee and 2) be aware of when high tide occurs, which will be posted in the centre. No tours on the beach will take place after high tide, much to the disappointment of some guests who arrived too late.

Lesley Moll, Canada 30-Dec-08

The Joggins fossil cliffs are outstanding. Definitely worthy of recognition as a world heritage site. I have visited the site several times over the last 10 years, most recently in November of 2008. My son is doing a project for the National Heritage Fair and has chosen Joggins as his topic.

The staff at the fossil center (despite the center not being open) met with us and spent 2 hours answering my sons questions, taking us down to the cliffs on a very blowy and cold afternoon and generally being exceedingly kind and helpful.

The center is beautiful and the cliffs are highly interesting. I can't wait to visit on a warmer day in 2009.

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Community Rating

Community Rating 1.67. Based on 3 votes.

Site Info

Full name: The Joggins Fossil Cliffs

Unesco ID: 1285

Inscribed: 2008

Type: Natural

Criteria: 8  

Link: By Name By ID

Site History

  • 2008 - Inscribed 


The site has 1 locations.

  • Joggins Fossil Cliffs


The site has 6 connections.

Individual People

  • Charles Darwin: The fossil record at Joggins figures in Darwin's On the Origin of Species



World Heritage Process

  • WHC locations: Quebec (2008)
  • Inscribed on a single criterion only: viii. to be outstanding examples representing major stages of earth's history, including the record of life, significant on-going geological processes in the development of landforms, or significant geomorphic or physiographic features