To gain an insight into the fauna and flora of Lesvos two millions of years ago, it is highly recommended that you pay a visit to the Collection of Natural History of Vrisa (Vrysa - a charming, small village near Vatera), which in 1999 was established in order to showcase the findings of paleontological excavations performed in the area.
Lesvos boasts some of the most impressive paleontology finds to the discovered in the entirety of Europe. Together with the magnificent Petrified Forest of Sigri, these rare treasures of paleontology underpin the significance of Lesvos as a haven for natural history enthusiasts and help paint a portrait of the island millions of years ago, when primates, rhinos, giraffes, elephants, mammoths and giant tortoises freely roamed the land.
The fossilized bones of a large number of animal species were discovered in the region of Vatera in the 1980s during excavation work run by the Geology and Paleontology Department of the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens. A number of years later, locals began to discover a score of fossilized bones in areas nearby. In 1997, the wider region became subject to organized, large-scale excavation led by Michalis Dermitzakis, Geology and Paleontology Professor at the National and Kapodistrian University, and a team of international paleontologists. Their findings are showcased in the Collection of Natural History of Vrisa (Vrysa) in the former village ‘Parthenagogion’ (School for Girls).
The Collection of Natural History of Vrisa includes fossils of a variety of vertebrate and invertebrate species unearthed in the area, a display of local minerals and ore, a zoological section representing the major animal species of Lesvos and a botanical exhibition that encompasses a variety of contemporary and fossilized plants.
While the entire Collection affords visitors with an invaluable insight into the fauna and flora of Lesvos 2 millions of years ago, the paleontological treasures on display are of particular value. As it emerges from these rare paleontological findings, Lesvos was once the habitat of a wide range of animal species such as Geochelone atlas, Gazellospira torticornis, Paradolichopitheticus, Mammuthus meridionalis, Anancus arvenensis, different types of deer and huge carnivorous felines.
You are strongly encouraged to come to the Collection, have a tour of the exhibition and enjoy a chat with Mr. Kostantinos Taxidis, the Collection’s highly informative Curator.
The Vrisa Collection of Natural History is open as follows:
- April to October: Tuesdays and Sundays only, 09:30 am - 17:00 pm
- May to 21st June: Monday to Friday, 9:30 am - 15:30 pm.
- 21st June to September: Monday to Friday, 09:30 am - 15:00 pm and 16:00 pm - 20:00 pm.
Entrance is free.