Ticino's Fossil Trove
Rooted firmly on the southern shores of Lago di Lugano, the 3,595-foot Monte San Giorgio has been an irresistible draw for paleontologists since the mid-19th century. Excavations in its five successive strata have regularly yielded extremely well-preserved fossils, allowing scientists to study the evolution of various groups of marine creatures of the Middle Triassic era (245–230 million years ago). Thousands of the reptiles, fish, and invertebrates found here—some of them unique specimens—have made their way into museums of paleontology in Zürich, Lugano, and Milan.
No wonder, then, that UNESCO added the entire region—an area measuring 2,098 acres and extending across the communities of Meride, Riva San Vitale, and Brusino Arsizio—to the list of World Heritage Natural Sites in 2003. This designation for Monte San Giorgio is Switzerland's second such honor, coming two years after that for the glaciers spanning the Jungfrau, Aletsch, and Bietschhorn summits.
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