Over millions of years, deposits were then formed from calcareous shells of marine life from the Mesozoic era. Tectonic forces later caused these sediments to rise upward to the mountaintops of today´s well-known and popular Southern Alps. The mountain range contains one of the most complete and most accessible geological records - also being one of the richest in fossils - from the Cretaceous period in Europe. This record was scientifically analyzed in-depth for the first time within the framework of a project supported by the Austrian Science Fund FWF.
In addition to basic analyses of the deposits, researchers also examined questions regarding the habitat and the biology of the original marine life, as well as the climatic conditions which existed at the time.
The Dolomites in 2008 and 2011. Notice anything different? © Alexander Lukeneder
Senior researcher Dr. Alexander Lukeneder from the Geological and Paleontological Department of Vienna´s Museum of Natural History says, "When conveying the results of our research, we find it important to also present the adventure of research and its beauty, in addition to factual data. Georg Tappeiner´s beautiful photos capture the breath-taking aesthetics of the Dolomites. The film of the palaeontology team captures more than the attractiveness of research objects. It shows the difficulties and efforts of conducting research far from any infrastructure, in extreme cold and 3000m above sea level. This almost makes our results seem secondary."
The team consisting of 32 researchers focused especially on an area in the Puez-Geisler Nature Park, which was declared a World Natural Heritage site by UNESCO in 2009. The current exhibition at the Museum of Natural History Vienna shows, in a very impressive way, that this heritage site comprises both natural beauty and a data archive from the Cretaceous period that is many million of years old.