Berlin-Ichthyosaur State Park

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The Berlin-Ichthyosaur State Park in Nevada, United States, is two attractions in one. First, there are ichthyosaur fossils, and second, it preserves a turn-of-the-20th century mining town called Berlin.

The ichthyosaurs were prehistoric marine reptiles that bear striking similarity in body shape to the dolphin and to fast predatory fish like tuna, although they are related to neither. They ranged between two to over fifty feet in length, and were some of the most highly specialized reptile ever to have lived on earth. The ichthyosaur breathed air, gave birth to their young alive, and had amazingly large eyes in relation to the rest of the body. They were particularly abundant in the later Triassic and early Jurassic Period, and were the top aquatic predators of that time. Ichthyosaurs became extinct in the Late Cretaceous period for unknown reasons.


Tour guides are here and willing to give valuable information. Photo credit: 3DeyeNET/Wikimedia

Ichthyosaurs fossils were first discovered in the early 19th century by the legendary fossil collector Mary Anning, when she was just twelve years old, and her brother Joseph.

Ichthyosaur fossils were discovered in Nevada in 1928. Excavations conducted through the 1960s, have unearthed the remains of approximately 40 ichthyosaurs including the largest ichthyosaurs ever discovered, dubbed Shonisaurus popularis after the Shoshone mountain range. Several specimens were left where they were found and can be viewed by the public.

About 10-minutes drive away from these specimens is the ghost town of Berlin. It was established in 1897 when substantial gold veins were discovered nearby. Unfortunately, the town never prospered to the same extent as other boom towns in the area. It produced less than $1 million worth of gold and silver during its short lifetime of fourteen years. The town was abandoned shortly afterwards.

The town was acquired by the state of Nevada as part of Berlin–Ichthyosaur State Park in 1970. There are many preserved buildings including the mine supervisor's house, now the park office, the assay office, a machine shop, and the ore mill.


Photo credit: Alisha Vargas/Flickr


Photo credit: Don Barrett/Flickr


Photo credit: Don Barrett/Flickr


Photo credit: Don Barrett/Flickr

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