Destination: Porrentruy / Jurassica
Interesting thing: Jura is the most recently created Swiss canton – joining the federation in 1979 – and is where the word Jurassic comes from
With its pretty, rolling fields flanked by roundish mountains, Jura has quite a different ‘feel’ to many of the other cantons I’ve been/seen so far in Switzerland. Which is kind of insane, considering it’s such a tiny country, but quite understandable given the fact of: mountains, mountains everywhere. But it was not always so. Back in the Jurassic era, this part of the world was all steamy swamplands, roamed but dinosaurs large and small. The clue is in the name – Jura / Jurassic. So we thought we’d go see some dinos when we visited Jura canton this weekend.
The Jurassic is named after the Jura Mountains within the European Alps, where limestone strata from the period were first identified. By the beginning of the Jurassic, the supercontinent Pangaea had begun rifting into two landmasses, Laurasia to the north and Gondwana to the south. This created more coastlines and shifted the continental climate from dry to humid, and many of the arid deserts of the Triassic were replaced by lush rainforests. On land, the fauna transitioned from the Triassic fauna, dominated by both dinosauromorph and crocodylomorph archosaurs, to one dominated by dinosaurs alone. Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jurassic
The dinos, and in fact almost any sign of life, proved rather difficult to find though! We’d inadvertently visited during the local holiday period of Semaine Blanche – White Week – and on a Sunday, so there was a total of one boulangerie, one restaurant and a few bars open in the town of Porrentruy (to be fair, not much is open in Switzerland on Sundays as a rule but you do usually get a few more cafes etc.) Anyway, the sun was shining and there wasn’t much “Blanche” (snow) in town so we had a pleasant wander through Porrentruy. And an unexpectedly good lunch at L’Inter. (Hmm, #26Cantons52weeks is fast becoming #26lunches – I need to start #26typesofexercise!)
After our meal, we went to try to find the dinosaur footprints at the Jurassica Diotec. Both the Satnav and Google maps took us to a local tech park area and told us we were in the right place but we circled around a bunch of very closed-up looking buildings and could not see a hint of dinosaurs. There was no signage, nothing.
Luckily, Himself managed to flag down a local who was strolling by the river who told us they were “three buildings across”. We went there and, tucked away in a courtyard behind the engineering school – Success! Pretty awesome. On the way out we saw a tiny sign pointing to where we’d been but without some serious persistence, it would have been missed entirely. There’s heaps more Jurassic Jura to see nearby, including a whole Dinosaur Theme Trail you can hike – once again, we might have to come back for a more extensive visit to this fascinating canton with our little dino-lovers.