Location and Values: The Ischigualasto/Talampaya Natural Parks are located in central Argentina, in a region of warm scrub desert that lies in the rain-shadow of the Eastern Andean foothills. The two parks form a contiguous protected area straddling the border between Rioja and San Juan Provinces, and extending over most of the Ischigualasto-Villa Union sedimentary basin. This geological basin provides the world’s most complete continental fossil record of the Triassic Period, at the dawn of the ‘Age of Dinosaurs’, 250-200 million years ago.
The dramatic natural landscape of the site exposes six geological formations that contain an exceptionally complete record and sequence of animal and plant life over this critical period of Earth’s history from the time the first ancestors of mammals appeared (in the early Triassic) to the beginning of the period of dinosaur dominance. This fossil record informs our understanding of the evolution of vertebrates and the nature of Palaeo-environments over a period of almost 50 million years. Of particular importance is the extraordinary diversity of vertebrate fossils found here, covering 56 genera of fish, amphibians, mammal-like ancestors and reptiles, including the early dinosaur, Euraptor.
Conservation Status and Prospects. According to IUCN’s Conservation Outlook Assessment (2017) the conservation status of the Ischigualasto/Talampaya Natural Parks is ‘good’. The IUCN report notes that the outstanding geological values of the site (i.e. the complete sequence of fossil-bearing sediments covering 50 million years of the Triassic Period) are well protected. However, the report also notes that other values of the site are threatened by poaching, firewood harvesting, invasive and feral species, as well as road construction impacts. According to the IUCN report, management capacity is limited, and more needs to be done to improve visitor management, enhance law enforcement capacity and harmonize approaches between the two adjoining protected areas.
IUCN Conservation Outlook
Official UNESCO Site Details
UNEP-WCMC Site Description