Museum of Lodeve >  Collections > Earth Sciences 

Earth Sciences

Geology - palaeontology

Due to the renovation and extension of the museum, the collection is not currently on view.

Lodeve's surroundings offer a remarkable insight into the four geological eras. They provide an opportunity to discover sea-level fluctuations, the rising and erosion of mountains, climate change and volcanic activity. Few regions in France can boast of such a rich geological diversity as is found around Lodeve. The rocks reveal 540 million years of the Earth's history and of life on our planet. Among the multitude of fossils found, the quantity and quality of reptile footprints are outstanding, and contribute to the national, and even international, renown of the region. The items in the Museum's collection are exemplary and are of great scientific importance.

The Palaeozoic

The Palaeozoic (from 542 to 251 million years ago) is particularly well represented in the collection, which houses the majority of findings from this period. There are many examples both from this first age of fossils and from the rising of the Hercynian chain: Plants, various insects and, above all, the reptile footprints which, for more than a century, have given the Permian sites of this area a celebrated status internationally. The extraordinary abundance of these prints and 'inverse-prints' from Permian reptiles, one of the original features of the Lodevois region, is very well represented in the Museum's collection.

The Mesozoic

The Mesozoic (from about 250 to 65 million years ago) is also well represented, notably with the 'inverse-prints' of salt crystals and reptiles (Chirotherium, first discovered near Lodeve) of the Triassic period (from 251 to 199 million years ago). It is also at this level that one finds the first evidence of dinosaurs. The Museum houses a number of marine animal fossils (gastropods, bivalves, ammonites and ichthyosaurs) from the Jurassic period (from 199 to 145 million years ago).

The Tertiary

The Tertiary collection shows examples principally from the Miocene (from 23 to 5 million years ago), where sediments are typical of the interface between sea and land. The collection is particularly rich in sea-shells (giant oysters, Pecten, mussels and lithophagous molluscs).

The Quaternary

The geological history of the Lodeve region is particularly marked by a volcanic period when the  first eruptions appeared at the end of the Tertiary. The subsequent erosion formed the landscape around Lodeve. A number of karst cavities have also yielded mammal remains...sometimes associated with human occupation.