The Karoo National Park offers something truly unique in the form of a Fossil Trail. This trail is a 400m-long wheelchair-friendly walk, allowing visitors to explore the fossil evidence of extinct Karoo wildlife.
The Fossil Trail tells the story of the ancient Karoo by way of showcasing real fossils 250-million years ago, before climatic and geomorphological activity changed the landscape forever. The Karoo National Park lies in the Karoo basin with its fossil record covering a period of 240 to 190 million years.
The fossilized remains of some of the 26 000 mammal-like reptiles that were unearthed in the area, can be seen here. The captivating trail takes you through an extraordinary assortment of fossilized creatures millions of years old, showing impressive collections of whole skeletons, skulls and bones.
Fossils and sedimentary rocks from the Great Karoo provide the best picture of ancient African wildlife and landscapes during the late Permian period, about 255 million years ago. At the time, the main species on land belonged to a significant group called Therapsids. Fossils of primitive dinosaurs as well as tiny early mammals are found in the younger sediments of the Karoo Basin that were laid down long after the Permian period.
One of the examples of skeleton is the well-preserved skeletons of Diictodon show the original connections between the skull and other bones of the skeleton. Many are corpses of animals that were either buried alive by floods or roof collapse, or dried out by the hot sun to form natural mummies. Their bones were held together within a tough bag of dried skin and ligaments until they were finally buried.