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  • Writer's pictureStefan Ivanov

Pliocene Park in Dorkovo and the largest paleontological site in the Balkans

The Pliocene Park in the village of Dorkovo is a very interesting paleontological museum, which I invite you to visit together.

Dorkovo Pliocene Park

The site near Dorkovo is the largest accumulation of bones of over 30 species of animals in one place known to paleontologists. More than 600 bones were found in an area of 15 square meters.

It is the largest paleontological site in the Balkans and the second most significant exposition in Europe. It marks the beginning of the Pliocene geological epoch in Eastern Europe.

Dorkovo Pliocene Park

The fossils were first brought to attention by a local schoolteacher in the 1930s.

Dorkovo Pliocene Park

After several years of research, it was concluded that this is the richest deposit of Auvergne mastodon (Anancus arvernensis) remains in the world and one of the richest Early Pliocene fossil animal remains deposits in Europe.

Dorkovo Pliocene Park

The large accumulation of bones in one place suggests that a natural disaster wiped out an entire herd of Auvergne mastodons, and this probably happened along the banks of an ancient river.

Dorkovo Pliocene Park

Scientists later reported that nine archegroups of mammals lived in the area.

Some of the finds were sent abroad for restoration and conservation, and were later returned to Bulgaria.

The site was declared a natural landmark on January 31, 1990.

Dorkovo Pliocene Park

During the excavations, remains of tusks, molars and parts of skeletons of more than 30 species of vertebrates were found - more than 600 bones of large mammals - mastodons, three-toed horses hiparions, ancient rare monkeys, lions, saber-toothed tigers, deer, tapirs, rhinoceroses and primitive bears, and also numerous remains of rodents and insectivorous mammals. Two species of monkeys have been discovered - mesophithecus and Dolichopithecus ruscinensis, both species belonging to the colobus group.

Dorkovo Pliocene Park

Bone remains of one new genus and two new species of birds were also discovered - a new species of grouse - Rhodope grouse (Tetrao rhodopensis), which is the most ancient representative of the grouse family, a new genus and species of lake duck - Pliocene Balkan duck (Balcanas pliocaenica) and an unidentified species of small hen bird of the partridge subfamily.

Dorkovo Pliocene Park

The paleontological site near Dorkovo is unique not only with its large number of Auvergne mastodon finds, but also with their great variety. There are remains of both adults and young animals, and also of small mastodons with milk teeth.

How do you get here?

If you are traveling on the Pazardzhik - Velingrad road, turn left at the fork for Rakitovo. Keep the road to Dorkovo.

Once you enter Dorkovo, follow the signs that will take you out of the village on a really good and wide road. You will find yourself in a nice parking lot right in front of the museum building.

Dorkovo Pliocene Park

It is charmingly beautiful all around and you can see the whole village like in the palm of your hand!

What can be visited nearby?

In the village of Dorkovo, you can see the magnificent church "St. Ilia".

Temple "Saint Prophet Elijah" in the village of Dorkovo, Bulgaria

Nearby are the ancient ruins of the "Tsepina" fortress.

The ancient ruins of the fortress "Tsepina" in the Rhodopes

8.5 kilometers from Dorkovo (about 14 minutes by car) you can visit the charming town of Rakitovo, where you can see the old clock tower.

The clock tower with two dials in Rakitovo, Bulgaria

20 kilometers from Dorkovo (30 minutes by car) is the Tsigov Chark resort complex and the picturesque "Batak" dam.

Batak Dam

Приказна разходка ви пожелавам!

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