House of the Fossils
Santa Maria Island is the only in the Azores with outcrops containing marine fossils, dated from the Pliocene (~4 million years old) and the Last Interglacial Stage (~120.000 years old). The presence of these fossils has fueled the curiosity of scientists and naturalist, laying out the foundations for the yearly scientific expeditions since 2000. The knowledge acquired during these expeditions resulted in the ratification of the Santa Maria PaleoPark (the first worldwide protecting an entire island), the publication of dozens of scientific papers, the recognition of geosites of international relevance and, finally, a detailed understanding of the complex geological history of Santa Maria Island.
The House of Fossils, inaugurated in the 19th of September, 2016, in the center of Vila do Porto town, comprises ten exhibition modules aiming to bring to the public the scientific knowledge on the paleontological and geological heritage of Santa Maria Island. The exhibition goes back in time 6 million years to tell the geological history of Santa Maria, resorting to a detailed 3D model over 15 minutes. Another module shows renowned scientists in the areas of geology, palaeontology, biogeography and stratigraphy.
The history of several outcrops is also disclosed interactively, based on fossils that can be observed and, in some cases, even manipulated. The exhibition includes yet a module designed for children, comprising a game that allows the exploration of three outcrops and the virtual extraction of fossils.