Lesvos in the Past
Life of the Past PDF Print E-mail

Life of the past left traces. These traces are called fossils. It is only by these traces that we can reconstruct life of the past. Fossils, however, are not easy to find. In most cases, fossils are not visible at the surface, but reveal themselves in other ways. In the case of Vatera, the geology indicated that once there was a river. Dead animals, carcasses and the like, are transported by river waters, till somewhere they get stuck in a curve or at an obstacle like a tree trunk.

Dead trees in rivers form obstacles, and objects get stuck around it.

Gradually, sediments cover the remains, and they may become petrified. If you are lucky and you excavate at such an ancient river side, you may find fossils. Between Vatera and Vrissa, about eight sites with fossils were found, all around latitude 39˚ 2'  N and longitude 26˚ 13' E.


But that’s not enough. The bare fossils tell only about the bones themselves. To be able to say more, we need to compare the fossil bones with bones of the animals of today. The differences and similarities help paleobiologist to reconstruct the animals of the past. Shapes of bones and features of joints often even tell how the animals walked like. Teeth inform us about the food the animals were eating. Fossil plants, seeds and pollen, the realm of paleobotany, can confirm this. With the various reconstructed animals, together with information from paleobotany and geology, we can reconstruct the past of the region: its landscape, climate, flora and fauna.


The anatomy of living animals give us clues to interprete life of the past.

The Fossil Sites of Vatera PDF Print E-mail
 Eight sites in the area around Vatera yielded fossil remains of a Plio-Pleistocene age: the DS-site, E-site, F-site, H-site, R-site, S-site, T-site and U-site. The F-site is by far the most rich, followed by the DS-site. The other sites yielded only one or a few fossils. Apart from these sites, there are the Fish-locality and the Shell-terrain, which abound in fish and shell remains respectively. All sites and localities are situated in the area between Vrissa, where the Natural History Collection is housed, and Vatera.

Copyright Google Earth


Latitude 39˚ 1' 32.09'' N
Longitude 26˚ 11' 33.07'' E
The “Daniela-Sandra”-site, named after two of the excavators, yielded a similar fossil fauna as the famous F-site. 


Latitude 39˚ 1' 46.30'' N
Longitude 26˚ 11' 51.07'' E
The “Electric-site” is actually next to a concrete water tank, but when some fossils were found there, the excavators mistook it for some sort of building for electricity.


Latitude 39˚ 1' 44.79'' N
Longitude 26˚ 11' 23.04'' E
The “Funny site” was discovered when a new dustroad was made to an olive yard. In the beginning, excavation was fruitless, till the late Paul Sondaar asked, pointing somewhere seemingly at random, “why don’t you dig there?”. That was the start of the finding of a lot of fossils. 


Latitude 39˚ 1' 23.88'' N
Longitude 26˚ 11' 56.44'' E
The “House-site” is, as its name suggests already, in the backyard of one of the houses of Vatera. 


Latitude 39˚ 2' 34.73'' N
Longitude 26˚ 14' 5.17'' E
The “Rhinoceros”-site is a limestone quarry. Here only a partial molar of a rhinoceros was found.


Latitude 39˚ 2' 6.50'' N
Longitude 26˚ 11' 53.75'' E
The “Sandy”-site is a sand quarry. Only some fragmentary fossils, including a deer limb bone, were found here.


Latitude 39˚ 1' 28.47'' N
Longitude 26˚ 11' 47.91'' E
The “Turtle”-site yielded a practically complete skeleton plus carapax of a tortoise. 


Latitude 39˚ 1' 54.99'' N
Longitude 26˚ 11' 30.74'' E
The “Unknown”-site, because originally its exact location was unknown.


Latitude 39˚ 3' 23.13'' N
Longitude 26˚ 11' 4.38'' E
Over a large area in an olive yard huge quantities of fossil shells are found. 


Latitude 39˚ 1' 15.16'' N
Longitude 26˚ 11' 11.82'' E
The fish-locality yields not only abundant fossil fish remains, but also those of fossil plants. 


Latitude 39˚ 1' 14.95'' N
Longitude 26˚ 11' 50.21'' E
The settlement Vatera is hardly more than a beach town with a few scattered hotels, restaurants and beach bars. 

Vrissa Natural History Collection

Latitude 39˚ 2' 22.72'' N
Longitude 26˚ 11' 55.90'' E
The Natural History Collection of Vrissa houses all the materials that were found in the area between Vrissa, Vatera and Polychnitos. The collection is partly exhibited and open to the public; the other part is stored in the same building. In the courtyard of the Museum, a live reconstruction of the giant tortoise walks through the grasses. 
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