The fossils of Nieu-Bethesda - South Africa's own Permian Park
Situated in the heart of the Karoo, in the picturesque town of Nieu-Bethedsa, and home of the famous Owl House, the Kitching Fossil Exploration Centre tells the story of life in South Africa 253 million years ago during the Permian Period.
This was a time 50 million years before the first dinosaurs when the continents were joined to form the supercontinent, Pangea, and the mountains of the Cape were the size of the Himalayas. Proof for the existence of these animals and plants may be found in the rocks surrounding Nieu-Bethesda, the rocks of the Karoo Supergroup, which tell the story of life from 285 million to 180 million years ago.
Visitors to the Fossil Exploration Centre can experience, on a short guided tour to nearby fossil-bearing rocks, the thrill of finding a fossil in the Karoo. Step into the Fossil Exploration Centre and you enter a world without the plants and animals we know today. Life-sized models of prehistoric animals which once lived in the Karoo and paintings by the artist Gerhard Marx illustrate a time when there were no flowers or grasses, no mammals and no birds. Humans would only arrive on scene around 250 million years later. At this time the mammal ancestors (or therapsids) ruled the Earth.