Dinosaur Den


W28Jun2016

I’ve just returned from Cuba, a place I’ve wanted to visit for many years. After a full passport followed by an empty one, this island nation kicked off my return to exotic travel. I was fascinated by the vibrant urban life of cities like Havana, and also by the more remote natural areas.

One of the most interesting places I visited was the Vinales Valley west of Havana. This is an area known for limestone hills locally called mogotes. Because of their isolation and unique formation, they are covered with amazing plants found nowhere else. I spent part of an afternoon climbing one of these, observing the characteristic endemic plants.

Though various theories have been suggested, it seems likely they first emerged from the Atlantic when Cuba was formed, and they were eroded from above by rain and also from below by underground streams which contributed to the formation of caves and tunnels which still exist today. Fossils suggest they were formed in the Jurassic, 160 million years ago. As I surveyed this scene of mist shrouding some of the taller slopes at dawn, it wasn’t hard to imagine dinosaurs appearing out of the fog to stroll among the flat-topped cliffs. Look closely at this photo and maybe you will find some hidden prehistoric creatures!