The Estación Paleontológica Valle del Río Fardes is home to thousands of large mammal fossils that are two million years old. Since its research began in 2001, more than 3,000 fossilized bones representing 38 species of animals, including 24 large mammals, have been recovered. Among the latter, the presence of giraffes, rhinos, mammoths, saber-toothed felines, cheetahs, zebras, hyenas, badgers, wolves, jackals and lynx are highlights, as well as other primitive species. This great wealth of fauna is surprisingly varied, and brings the visitor closer to what the southern Iberian Peninsula was like 2 million years ago.
The station is a field infrastructure belonging to the Instituto Geológico y Minero de España (Geological and Mining Institute of Spain, or IGME), which brings together research, dissemination and teaching activities around this site featuring large mammals from the early Pleistocene in Fonelas P-1.
The joint presence in space and time of these animals indicates that the Iberian Peninsula was not only inhabited by the typical fauna of the Lower Pleistocene (the Calabrian), which were also found in other European sites of similar chronology. In fact, Fonelas P-1 surprises visitors with a mosaic of native species coexisting with species from Africa and Asia. This indicates the existence of important faunal dispersion throughout the Old World in which humans may have played a part.