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Overview

Considered a tiny scientific gem, Parc de Miguasha is the site of rich fossil beds that date back to the Devonian period, some 370 million years. They were discovered in 1842, formed when today’s rugged Gaspé coast was a tropical estuary in which an astonishing range of fish thrived in the warm tidal waters. The park, a mere 0.8 square km (0.30 square miles), was created in 1985 to preserve the fossilized fish – and specifically a species nicknamed the Prince of Miguasha whose fins resembled primitive feet, a significant event in the history of evolution. Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1999, the Escuminac rock formation is best ...

Considered a tiny scientific gem, Parc de Miguasha is the site of rich fossil beds that date back to the Devonian period, some 370 million years. They were discovered in 1842, formed when today’s rugged Gaspé coast was a tropical estuary in which an astonishing range of fish thrived in the warm tidal waters. The park, a mere 0.8 square km (0.30 square miles), was created in 1985 to preserve the fossilized fish – and specifically a species nicknamed the Prince of Miguasha whose fins resembled primitive feet, a significant event in the history of evolution. Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1999, the Escuminac rock formation is best experienced by following the 100-meter (328-foot) high cliff-top Evolution of Life trail, which offers both gorgeous views over the Bay of Chaleur and informative panels describing the major stages of life’s evolution on Earth. A 214-step staircase provides access to the beach below. The basics of palaeontology are clearly explained in the park’s interpretive center, and guided tours are available from June to October.

Joanna Ebbutt
About the Expert

Joanna Ebbutt is the author or editor of three Insight Guides to Toronto and Canada, and coauthor of Off the Beaten Track: Western Canada. She has been writing about travel for three decades, including chasing the aurora borealis in Northern Ontario.

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Joanna Ebbutt for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

  • Location: North-west of Montreal, Miguasha National Park is a protected area near Carleton-sur-Mer on the Gaspé Peninsula of Quebec in Canada. Miguasha was designated a World Heritage Site in 1999 in recognition of its wealth of fossils.
  • Language: French and English
  • Currency: Canadian Dollar
  • Research: Wikipedia
  • Weather: Daylight | Rainfall
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