Near the town of Marano sul Panaro, fossils can be found in marine deposits of Plio-Pleistocene origin, exposed in the Panaro river.
The site is situated west of the town, just beyond the last houses, near a sluice made to slow down the currents of the Panaro river and protect the Bridge above it (ponte Muratori). The deposits are mainly composed of a sandy clay called "Argille azzurre Plioceniche", which are characteristic of the area from Piemonte to Marche, passing through Emilia Romagna. In the exposed riverbed you can find various shells of bivalves and Gastropods among many Genera (around 116 confirmed species found in the area). Due to the particular nature of the deposits and the effect that the sluice has on the site, every year cubic meters of fossiliferous deposits get eroded away by the waterflow of the river.
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The site can be easily accessed on foot: find your way to Marano sul Panaro, a small town near Vignola, from there just follow the river East until you find yourself between the Bridge (Ponte Muratori) on the right and the castle on your left. Keep following the river, you should now find yourself on a smaller road ending in a parking spot, park there and continue down the path. That path should bring you to the river near the sluice on the river bank, from there on out you’re in the fossiliferous site, look down and enjoy the rest of the day!
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In a few hours, may genera of gastropods, Pectinidae, corals to Vermetidae can be found. Among the taxa found in this site are Turritella (4 species), Petaloconchus, Dentalium sexangulum, Gemmula contigua, Aequipecten (2 species) and some more uncommon ones like Architectonica simplex or Nassarius serraticosta. Bring a geological hammer or pickaxe since some sections have a much more sturdier matrix then others. The Pectinids from this site are fragile and are prone to breaking when outside of their matrix.
The presence of species found today in hotter climates like the coasts of northern Africa is testament of a time when the mediterranean was all around hotter, sustaining a more diverse and tropical fauna.
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Other locations in the area
Museum: Museo Geologico Giovanni Capellini
Museum: Museo Mineralogico e Geologico Estense
Thanks to Lorenzo Battilani
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