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Exhibition La Pierre de Caen

19 June – 31 October 2010

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The exhibition tour

1- Geology of Caen Limestone

165 million years ago the land distribution across the globe was very different from what it is now. France was then a vast sea with only three islands emerging from it: the London-Brabant Massif or Platform, the Massif Central and the Armorican Massif. It was along the latter’s coastline, in a tropical lagoon with calm waters lined with mangroves, that a carbonated mud made up of fine silt particles from the decomposition of the limestone shells of marine bivalves was deposited. As the water receded, this mud was buried and then compacted, leading to cementation of the particles. The result of this was Caen Stone.

Quarrying the stone beds has made it possible to get a better understanding of the environment through the discovery of many fossil specimens studied back in the 19th century by the Norman palaeontologists Jacques-Amand Eudes-Deslongchamps, his son Eugène, then Eugène’s son-in-law, Alexandre Bigot. 165 million years ago, the sea bed was populated by corals, belemnites, large nautiluses and giant ammonites. The banks of the lagoon were infested with crocodiles. Teleosaurus cadomensis was a gavial specific to the area recognizable from its thin snout about a metre long. Over 450 specimens of this species have been discovered in and around Caen, but sadly were destroyed in the bombing raids during the summer of 1944 which wiped out the university, where they were kept.

Photo : Megalosaurus skull fossilized in Caen Stone Several dinosaur discoveries have also been made in the area and usually correspond to drifting corpses. The most recently specimen was uncovered in 1994 by André Dubreuil, the mayor of the village of Conteville some fifteen kilometres (10 mi) south of Caen. He handed it over for study to the National Natural History Museum in Paris, which pieced together the unearthed elements to make a reconstitution, now on public show for the first time in this exhibition.

  1. Geology of Caen Limestone
  2. Quarrying of Caen Stone
  3. The Caen Stone trade
  4. Twenty centuries of heritage in Caen stone

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