In Tegelen clay was used already in the Roman era. The name Tegelen comes from the Roman name for rooftiles: tiglia. The claylayers from Tegelen are known for its rich occurrance of mammalfossils from the end of the Pliocene (part of the Neogene period), around 2 milion years old. More precisely the Tiglian period. The Typesections of the Tiglian are located here in Tegelen.
In the 19th an beginning of the 20th century many bones were found in the clayquarries in the Tegelen area. The finds were most accidental finds by quarryworkers. The clay is not very rich in fossils, but due to the large scale of the clay industry, a large collection of fossils was found. From 1904 the Dutch geologist Eugène Dubois (known from the Java man) studied the finds togethjer with his assistents. Later scientific excavations were carried out. This is the only place in The Netherlands where many in situ mammal fossils from this period were found. zijn er nog grootschalige opgravingen georganiseerd.
There are almost no active quarries anymore in the area. In 1975 several quarries were declared a natural monument (Jammerdaalse Heide). Near Swalmen is still an active quarry. Large collections of the finds are stored in Naturalis museum, The Natural history museum of Maastricht and the Teylers museum in Haarlem. The fins are still studied today.
During the Tiglian the climate was warm and moist. The clay and sandlayers were deposited by the Rhine river in a river landscape with pools and lakes. There were deciduous and pine forests (pollen research). The early Meuse river was a sideriver of the Rhine, and flowed into the rhine near Aachen (Germany). The Netherlands were mostly sea, but the coastline migrated westwards because of high sedimentation rates, en sealevel drop.
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The old grown over quarries can be visitted. The quarries are now in a nature reserve east of Tegelen, close to the German border in the southeast of The Netherlands.
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Bones of many large and small mammals have been found (i.e. rhino's, zebra, deer, horses, elephants, hyena, bears, and beaver). Ever remains of a monkey have been found! Many of these animals are now extinct. Also birds, fish, mollusks, plants (various leaved trees) and a swamp turtle have been found.
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