Paleontological Ecotourism in San Juan Raya, Puebla
Millions of years ago, the town of San Juan Raya was part of Laurasia, one of the two gigantic continents into which the mass of land known as Pangea was divided. “It consisted of a large number of bays near the coastline, with river mouths, deltas, and there was an abundance of food for a wide array of living organisms,” says researcher Raúl Gío.
The footprints of San Juan Raya, of which we spoke in the cover note, share similarities with tracks of dinosaurs found in Coahuila and other parts of the world, such as those found in Brazil.
The Institute of Marine Sciences and Limnology of the UNAM carried out a scan of almost 200 dinosaur footprints to have a comparison between the findings made in different countries.
“This scan was carried out with UNAM material, and then 3D images of 20 different footprints were made, in order to get impressions in plastic material with a determined form, structure and characteristics “, assures the expert.
The representative of the community of San Juan Raya, Felix Reyes, says that residents and visitors respect the signs that indicate that it is prohibited to touch the species of flora, fauna and fossils.
“It was decided to open the Turritelas Park to the public, as we saw that a considerable number of people came to the area asking to see fossils, so we organized a route and the trails were traced,” Reyes said.
Given the large numbers of visitors that San Juan Raya receives, today there are nine routes, all taking as a central axis paleontological ecotourism.
“There is still much to explore in this region of Puebla that is very likely to hide more ichnites (footprints) and fossils from other eras, marks that will disappear over time”, the scientist Raúl Gío assured.
“The dinosaurs became extinct 66 million years ago presumably by the impact of a meteorite that hit Chicxulub, near the Yucatan Peninsula. The genetic legacy left behind is mainly seen in birds; however, the dinosaur’s presence on the planet is still alive in the memory through traces on the earth that year after year attract thousands of tourists.
In San Juan Raya, there are about 2,700 species of plants and cacti, of which 11% are endemic.
The town is one of the richest and most abundant sites in marine fossils. “There have been many examples of echinoderms, molluscs, crustaceans, there are even some impressions of shrimp in the mud,” concluded the UNAM specialist Raúl Gío.