We walk along the paths and tracks of Els Ports. We walk through its streets and alleys that mix modern buildings with some from ancient times. We eat its rich gastronomy with the best products of the land. However, neither we nor the humans who inhabited these lands before us were the first to do so. At least, we are not the first to walk through Els Ports. Thousands, millions of years ago, film creatures, but very real, such as dinosaurs lived in these lands.
Extraordinary beings that, until their extinction, left their mark on the history of a land, a region. A mark that we now have the opportunity to discover in archaeological sites and museums. Els Ports can boast of being the cradle of three dinosaurs never discovered before, unknown until a few years ago, and that shows its importance in the world of archaeology and palaeontology. The Morelladon Beltrani, discovered in Morella, the Portellsaurus sosbaynati found in Portell or the Vallibonavenatrix found in Vallibona are a clear example of the environmental richness of the region around 130 million years ago, in the Cretaceous, when the current mountains were only hills next to the sea and its flora and fauna corresponded to a different climatic and geological stage than the current ones.
Cinctorres, Portell, Morella and Vallibona are the four municipalities where the largest number of bones remains of these primitive creatures have been found. Large, small, carnivorous, land or sea creatures… The range of remains found in Els Ports is so wide that two museums have been dedicated to them.
Firstly, the Dinomania Cultural Park in Cinctorres has three types of resources focused on the world of dinosaurs: the Museum Collection, the dino-routes and the Anna palaeontological site. The Museum Collection is located in the Sants Joans palace and contains an interesting collection of fossils discovered in the town, as well as different elements that provide an in-depth knowledge of the field of palaeontology. The dino-routes are circular routes through the local area with information and curiosities. Finally, the Anna archaeological site is a museum and is the site of some of the great discoveries in the municipality. On arrival, we are greeted by a life-size replica of the Baryonyx, 8 metres long.
Morella, the town where the Morelladon Beltrani has been discovered, has had for decades the “Temps de Dinosaures Museum” where, through the different display cases, visitors can discover the Cretaceous past of Els Ports. A period in which the valleys were formed and covered with water, which made it possible for a large amount of remains of marine fauna and calcareous algae to reach our days. Within the walls of the Museum are kept bones, treasures of the history of life, found in the clayey soils of the region, where those of the Iguanadon stand out.
The most important palaeontological discovery of recent times has taken place in Portell. Here, at the Mas de Curolles – II site, the remains of a new species of dinosaur, Portellsaurus sosbaynati, have been found. This herbivorous animal, which fed on plants, was of medium to large size and is the oldest dinosaur species known in the province of Castellón. It is estimated to have lived 130 million years ago, while the Morelladon Beltrani and the Vallivonavenatrix, discovered at the site of the Santa Águeda de Vallibona farmhouse, the other two species described in the region, are between 126 and 127 million years old.
Els Ports has a large number of palaeontological sites distributed throughout the region. Unique visits that allow you to discover a piece of history that is still very much alive. A cultural experience that both young and old can enjoy and that always allows you to discover a new world full of knowledge.