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Collecting fossils in Vrondero

Vrondero is a mountainous village in the Florina prefecture. It is located almost on the Greek-Albanian borders, overlooking the lake Mikri Prespa. There, a significant fossil collection is hosted. In the next room of the same building, there is also a collection of stamps, coins, shares and commemorative medals, as well as findings from the field hospital of the Democratic Army - the Kokkalis cave.

Fossils are either remnants (residues) of plant or animal organisms which lived before today's geologic age and were enclosed in earth strata (sediments), that is in depositions, or even traces (indications) of the existence of life in the past (ichnofossils). Fossils are the subject of the Paleontology science. Information about the history of evolution of the Earth can be obtained from the fossil studies and their enclosing formations. For this reason fossils are of great significance.
During the geologic history of the Earth there was constant change in the environment. Organisms living in a constantly changing environment try to adjust to each alternation. Studying the formations enclosing fossils also provides scientists with data about the environment where organisms lived and the changes that they have been going through during geologic time.

The fossil collection in Vrondero is composed of bivalves, shark teeth, artiodactyla teeth (even toed ungulate animals), a mastodon tooth, urchins, whale teeth, gastropods, corallines, sea shells, leaves, snails, ammonites, dendrites (pseudofossils), stalactite material, geodes and some unidentified fossils, as well as a palm tree.

Bivalves are a class of molluscs whose main feature is the presence of a double shell. They were named like this by Aristotle. They are also called Acephala (a = no and cephala = head) or Pelecypoda (pelecys = axe and podas = foot), because their single foot is axe-shaped. Well known representatives of Bivalves are mussels, oysters, scallops, clams, pen shells, cockles, date mussels and other animals. Bivalve species are about 13.000 and many of these are useful to mankind for both nourishment and industrial purposes (shell). Their class shows great homogeneity, and this facilitates their classification. They can be found worldwide in numerous communities.

Even toed ungulates (Artiodactyla) are a class of ungulate mammals characterized by even numbers of toes on their hooves. They are large herbivorous animals and are represented today by a small number of species, such as deer, giraffes, sheep, hippopotamuses and camels.
Mastodon is the ancestor of elephants, which lived at the Pliocene epoch (2,5 to 3,5 million years ago) and disappeared when the Pleistocene epoch and the glaciations started. Its name is due to the fact that their teeth were dotted with mammary gland-like tubercles (mastós = breast + odous = tooth) and used thus to grind their food.
Urchins are small spiny sea animals with round loamy shells. They belong to the subphylum Echinozoa (or Eleutherozoa) of the phylum Echinodermata, in which starfish also belong. These animals form the Echinoid class (Echinoidea).
Gastropods form one of the five classes of the phylum Mollusca. They are small, land or aquatic animals with asymmetrically structured bodies that bear a shell (univalves). In this class, snails, slugs, pteropods, limpets, conchs and other smaller species are included. Their name is compound and comes from the ancient Greek words "gastēr" (abdomen) + "podas" (foot) from their seeming presence of moving with one part of their body, the quasi-abdomen, which is actually a fleshy limb.
In zoology, a shell is called the solid and hard animal cover, especially of the Malacostraca and Mollusca. Usually this is loamy or of titan or chitin and is secreted by glands located under the animal's mantle. It comprises two layers, the external and the internal. The external can be smooth, rough, striated or helical, etc, while the internal is regularly glossy.
Snails are pulmonate gastropod molluscs whose body is protected by a coiled shell. The most characteristic species is the Roman snail (Helix pomatia), commonly named as snail, edible snail, escargot or Burgundy snail (salingari or chochlios or saliangas in Greek and karaoulos in Cypriot Greek). It has a long, narrow body which partly protrudes from the shell and its head bears two pairs of contractable antennas. It feeds on vegetal material (grass, sprouts) which it detaches from the soil using its tongue (bearing keratin formations like teeth) while it moves slowly leaving mucus traces and it usually appears on rainy days. Snails are active when there is humidity (eg. after a rainfall or during night) whereas they retreat in the internal of their shell when conditions are too dry and seal the entrance with a temporary cover from dried mucus, the epiphragm. In this state, snails undergo a torpor condition and can survive without water for months.
Ammonites were molluscs, which evolved from the nautiloids.
Dendrites are tree-like formations on inorganic rock surface – they have been created from iron and manganese oxides that circulate between the segregating rock surfaces.
A stalactite is created by the gradual deposition of calcium carbonate (calcite) during precipitation in the internal of caves and voids that are formatted in limestones. They usually have a cylindrical-conical shape and hang from the ceiling of caves.
Geodes are mineral, round or irregular-shaped masses that are formed in the rocks.

Prespa plain was formed by tectonic depressions, most possibly during the Tertiary (Cenozoic) era (1-70 million years ago).
At the beginning, only one lake was created, Prespa, but then, during the last tens of thousands of years, the deposits of the stream crossing the Agios Germanos valley created a sandy strip of earth little by little, which in combination with the effect from the lake water separated a shallow part of the original Prespa lake, resulting in the formation of Mikri Prespa. Thus, the two lakes are separated by a shallow sandy strip of land, 4 km in length and 200-1000 m wide.

Nature was and will always be a source of inspiration for people to create legends, traditions and enchanting stories... So, what can be more enchanting than the sublime Prespa lake? An element of Prespa that amazes every visitor....!!! In contrast with this scientific aspect there are legends that refer to the creation of the Prespa lake.
1. Many years ago, an enormous frightening monster lived in the middle of the lake Ochrid, which turned upside down the boats of those trying to pass across it. Saint Naoum decided to help the locals driving the monster to the Galitsitsa Mt.. The monster crushed on the rocks and made a big hole at the foot of the mountain. Ochrid water started to flow from the other side of the mountain, formatting another lake; the Prespa lake.
2. A shepherd left the faucet running, in a Greek myth. He was tired and sat next to the rocky fountain to take a rest, when he heard one of his sheep bleating with terror. He ran to see what was wrong, leaving the water flowing. Water was running continuously for a week, long enough for the Prespa to be filled...


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