The Dinosaurs Geopark of Haţeg District is a protected natural area of national interest since 2004. In 2005, it was included in the European Geopark Network. The geopark is a project conducted under the aegis of the University of Bucharest, which aims to promote the integrated tourism of Haţeg District and its sustainable development on this basis. The District of Hateg became notorious worldwide because of the dwarf dinosaurs that populated the area – then an island in the Tethys Ocean – during the Cretaceous period. Discovery Channel and other international TV stations broadcasted in the last years several documentaries about these small-sized dinosaurs. The first researches on the dinosaurs from Haţeg area were undertaken by Baron Franz Nopcsa (1815-1904), after his sister, Elek Nopcsa, discovered in 1895 the fossils of some reptiles around their family castle, in Sânpetru. The research was resumed only in 1977 by the paleontologist Dan Grigorescu, from the Faculty of Geology of the University of Bucharest. The experts explain the small size of Haţeg dinosaurs by the geographical conditions 65 million years ago, when the District of Haţeg was an island. The dinosaurs adapted to the isolated space reduced in size, where they were evolving, which determined the reduction in size of the reptiles through the phenomenon called “insular dwarfism”.
Hatzegopteryx (the only flying reptile, named like that after the name of Haţeg town) contrasts with the rest of the creatures on the island by its giant size (it had a wing span of 12 meters).
Here it was also discovered Balaurul Bondoc (The Dumpy Dragon). Balaurul bondoc is one of the unique dinosaurs in the whole world, a ferocious carnivore with feathers that populated the territory which formed the Hateg Island about 70 million years ago. It is the only dinosaur which has a scientific name in the Romanian language and not in Latin, as usual, as a tribute to the Romanian culture. A model in natural size of this dinosaur was made by the famous Canadian paleoartist Brian Cooley and can be seen at the centre of Haţeg District Dinosaurs Geopark – University of Bucharest, in Haţeg, 9A Libertăţii Str., in an exhibition space dedicated entirely to the Balaurul bondoc.
The District of Haţeg was chosen as the location of the Geopark because this region best meets the UNESCO conditions to establish such a structure:
– a territory well defined geographically, with an area large enough to enable activities related to economic development;
– the existence of geological sites with scientific value and/or highly esthetic, along with valuable archaeological, ecological, historical and cultural sites.
Haţeg District Dinosaur Geopark covers an area of 102,392 ha, comprising totally the following localities: Densuş, General Berthelot, Toteşti, Răchitova, Sântămăria-Orlea, Sarmizegetusa, Haţeg and partly: Baru Mare, Sălaşu de Sus, Pui, Râu de Mori. The Geopark borders to the south The Retezat National Park and to the north and north-east, The Cioclovina-Grădiştea de Munte Natural Park.
Dinosaurs Geopark of Hateg District
Libertății Street, nr. 9A, Haţeg, jud. Hunedoara, code 335 500
Opening hours: daily from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.