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The Ichnite Sites Natural Monument
Colunga, Gijón, Ribadesella y Villaviciosa (Central and Eastern Asturias)
  • The Ichnite Sites are located on several sections of the coast between the boroughs of Gijón, from Cape Torres, and Ribadesella.

Dinosaur tracks on the Ichnite Sites Natural Monument.

Over 150 million years ago in the Jurassic period, dinosaurs roamed the Earth. Some 63 million years were still to pass before man appeared. Many tracks still remain, even today, on the eastern coastline marking the passage of these creatures through Asturian lands.

When dinosaurs moved on mud or sand in the area, they left their footprints, also known as ichnites. The conditions of sedimentation that originated them, such as alluvial, deltaic and marine environments, favour the preservation of the footprints and bones of dinosaurs and other reptiles from this era, such as plesiosaurs, pterosaurs, ichthyosaurs and crocodiles. When the footprints were formed, the ground was soft, and only later, after being deeply buried, were they to become rock hard and come down to this day almost intact.

The ichnites on the Asturian coast present a number of features that make them a unique example when rebuilding what the life of a community of these amazing creatures was like.

The clearest evidence of the abundance and variety of dinosaurs that lived during the Jurassic period in Asturias starts with the numerous findings of footprints in the three Upper Jurassic formations at Vega, Tereñes and Lastres, which outcrop on the coastal cliffs of the boroughs of Villaviciosa, Colunga and Ribadesella. Their study shows that the area was inhabited both by bipedal dinosaurs (therapods and ornithopods) and quadrupeds (mostly sauropods). Judging by the size of these tracks, there were dinosaurs of very different proportions in Asturias: from very small dinosaurs, about the size of a bird, to huge ones, such as Brachiosaurus. The footprints on La Griega Beach are the largest known ichnites in Spain and among the largest in the world.

There is a surprising trail that allows you to discover these sites, called the Dinosaur Coast Trail, which runs through three boroughs.

Must visits in Villaviciosa include Merón Beach, Oles Cliffs and Tazones Lighthouse and Harbour; in Colunga, Lastres Cliffs and La Griega Beach; and in Ribadesella, Vega Beach, Tereñes Cliffs and Ribadesella Beach.

The good state of preservation, the wide morphological variety and the large number of preserved footprints place the Asturian deposits of footprints at the head of the most important findings from the Jurassic period in Spain.

The Ichnite Sites Natural Monument