GoKerry.ie

Valentia Island

Welcome to Valentia Island

. ©Gosia Horajska . ©Gosia Horajska . ©Gosia Horajska

The Valentia Island Tetrapod Trackway

On the rock at the top of the sea cliffs on Valentia Island is a fossil trackway.  This is a series of  footprints of a tetrapod - a large amphibian animal that walked on soft sediment 385 million years ago.  These footprints are now preserved in the rock as shallow impressions.  The Tetrapod Trackway is the oldese in-situ record of a major evolutionary step of our own very distant vertrebrate ancestors.  It records the earliest known example in the fossil record of the vertebrates moving onto land, breathing air and walking on four limbs.  In short, it is the first fossil record of an amphibian animal.   The world in the Devonian period (about 410-360 million years ago) was very different to the one we know today.  There were no mammals around andit was to be a long time before the first dinosaur appeared.  Plants such as horsetails, club mosses and ferns had only begun to occupy the landscape and insects were appearing.  The red sandstone rocks of Kerry preserve a record of a landscape dominated by some major rivers stripping down a new mountain chain to the north, and occasionally flooding a coastal plain.

 

Due to the natural constraints of the terrain, and the steepness of the slopes, the path to the Trackway is not recommended for wheelchair access for for those with restricted mobility.  

Valentia Island