UNESCO has approved Quebec’s Anticosti Island on its World Heritage list. The island in the Gulf of the St. Lawrence is home to the most complete fossil record of marine life on Earth’s history between 447 and 437 million years ago.
On Septeber 19, 2023 » UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee inscribed Anticosti, an island in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, Quebec, on the World Heritage List during its 45th annual session in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. This designation is made possible thanks to the lengthy and dedicated work of the nomination team, including the Government of Quebec, the MRC de Minganie and the Municipality of L’Île-d’Anticosti.
The nomination of Anticosti, which is also known as Notiskuan (“where bears are hunted”) by the Innu, and Natogostec (“land of before”) by the Mi’kmaq, is fully supported by the Innu communities of Ekuanitshit and Nutashkuan who have been heavily involved in the nomination of the site in recent years.
With a total area of more than 9,200 square kilometres and a coastline that stretches over 550 kilometres, Anticosti represents one of the largest stratigraphic successions in thickness and the most complete fossil record of marine life of the period that spans more than 10 million years of Earth’s history between 447 and 437 million years ago.
This interval in the history of Earth was not yet represented on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
The island’s exceptional paleontology continues to attract eminent Canadian, Quebec and international researchers who wish to study abundant, diverse, and well-preserved fossils. There are currently more than 1,440 known fossil species on Anticosti Island whose assemblages demonstrate changes in global climate and sea level that, at the end of the Ordovician period, caused the extinction of almost all ocean life on the planet.
The inscription of Anticosti as a World Heritage site includes all the fossil layers exposed along the coastline and the Vauréal and Jupiter rivers. The site is protected from any development and industrial activity because it is entirely located within a network of strictly protected areas consisting of a proposed biodiversity reserve, a Quebec national park, and two ecological reserves.
With this inscription, Anticosti joins the growing list of World Heritage sites in Canada, which includes impressive places such as the recently inscribed Tr’ondëk-Klondike, Nahanni National Park, Wood Buffalo National Park, Gros Morne National Park, the Historic District of Old Québec, and the Rideau Canal National Historic Site.
World Heritage sites are unique places in the world that are considered to have Outstanding Universal Value. As such, they are part of the common heritage that unites all of humanity.
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