Bulgaria’s Varshets to Set Up Paleontology Museum with Sculptures of Prehistoric Mammals in Joint Project with Romania’s Constanta

A computer generated image of what the future museum of paleontology in Bulgaria's Varshets is supposed to look like. Photo: Varshets Municipality

A computer generated image of what the future museum of paleontology in Bulgaria’s Varshets is supposed to look like. Photo: Varshets Municipality

Varshets Municipality in Northwest Bulgaria has developed a project for establishing a museum of paleontology featuring sculptures of prehistoric mammals whose fossils were found near Varshets in a huge deposit in the 1990s.

The BGN 2 million (app. EUR 1 million) project for Varshets’s future paleontological park has been drafted in partnership with the Museum of National History and Archaeology in Romania’s Black Sea city of Constanta.

Under the same project, the Romanian partners from Constanta plan to establish an underwater museum.

Funding for the two museums will be sought from the EU Program INTERREG “Bulgaria – Romania”, reports Stroitelstvo Imoti, citing Tanya Petrova, the head of the project at Varshets Municipality.

The project for Varshets’s future paleontology museum builds upon the discovery of the enormous deposit of fossils of prehistoric mammals which inhabited today’s Northwest Bulgaria about 2.5 million years ago.

Varshets, which is a popular spa resort in Bulgaria, thus seeks to expand its portfolio by offering a cultural tourism attraction for the lovers of nature, animals, and paleontology.

Computer generated images showing what the future museum of paleontology in Bulgaria's Varshets is supposed to look like. Photos: Varshets Municipality

Computer generated images showing what the future museum of paleontology in Bulgaria’s Varshets is supposed to look like. Photos: Varshets Municipality

Varshets Paleontology Museum Project 2The deposit of prehistoric mammal fossils near Varshets was found by artist Martin Markov in the 1990s.

It was immediately explored by the National Museum of Natural History in Sofia and the former Institute of Zoology of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences (today the Institute of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Research).

In it, the Bulgarian zoologists and paleontologists found fossils from a total of 140 prehistoric vertebrates.

These include 21 species of large mammals, 37 species of small mammals, 74 species of birds, and 8 species of reptiles and amphibians.

Of those, 15 species of birds and one species of a small mammal, a vole, were found to be new for world science.

The Bulgarian scientists have extracted over 1,700 bones from prehistoric birds and 1,000 bones from large mammals from the fossil deposit in Varshets.

The fossils from Varshets are dated back 2.5 million years ago, and the deposit Europe’s largest from this time period.

Utilizing these findings, Varshets Municipality plans to build its paleontological park on a plot of 10 decares (app. 2.5 acres) inside the town’s pine forest park.

The future museum of paleontology will feature sculptures of some of the prehistoric mammals whose bones have been found nearby as well as fossils and scientifically consulted artistic restorations of the natural environment in the region 2.5 years ago.

The information center of the museum will tell the visitors the story of the fossil deposit and its discovery as well as information about the prehistoric animal species found there.

This photo shows the life-size sculpture of a mastodon from the species Anancus arvernensis in the Pliocene Park Museum in Bulgaria's Dorkovo. Photo: Spasimir, Wikipedia

This photo shows the life-size sculpture of a mastodon from the species Anancus arvernensis in the Pliocene Park Museum in Bulgaria’s Dorkovo. Photo: Spasimir, Wikipedia

A paleontology museum with a concept similar to that of Varshets Municipality was opened in Bulgaria’s Dorkovo, Rakitovo Municipality, Pazardzhik District, back in September 2013.

The Pliocene Park Museum in Dorkovo is based on the discovery of a huge deposit of 5-million-year-old fossils of prehistoric mammals.

The Dorkovo deposit was found in the 1980s, and was especially rich in fossils of mastodons.

The Dorkovo museum of paleontology features a life-size sculpture of a mastodon from the species Anancus arvernensis, and has proven a very popular destination for tourists, especially in combination with the ruins of the medieval Bulgarian fortress Tsepina, which also located outside of Dorkovo.

Another cultural tourism project in the field of archaeology has recently been developed jointly by Bulgarian and Romanian partners, Vratsa Municipality, also in Northwest Bulgaria, and the Romanian commune Dobrosloveni Commune.

It provides for setting up an open-air museum of prehistoric archaeology in Bulgaria’s Ohoden, and an open-air museum in the Dacian settlement Malva / Roman city Romula in Romania.

Background Infonotes:

Paleontology in Bulgaria started to develop as a separate field in the second half of the 20th century.

Consistent with the type of the specific fossil finds, Bulgarian paleontology has been focused mostly on the study of prehistoric mammals (such as elephants, rhinoceroses, whales) of which numerous fossil deposits have been found, and paleo-ornithology, the study of prehistoric birds.

There have been few discoveries of fossils from dinosaurs, fish, and amphibians, and, respectively, little academic effort dedicated to those fields. So far only two dinosaur species have been proven to have lived on Bulgaria‘s territory – an ornithomimosaur species and a hadrosaurid species, as well as the aquatic lizard species mosasaurus.