Fossil marble of Erfoud
More than 500 million years ago, in the primary era, a sea covered a large part of the globe, including the Erfoud region. Colonies of invertebrate molluscs inhabited these deep and icy waters.
Gradually, over a period of about 150 million years, it withdrew as a result of natural movements. Leaving all this aquatic fauna scattered in a few lagoons to end up trapped in a muddy soil which was transformed over the ages into an arid and calcareous land.
Little by little, the natural process of fossilization ensued by the gradual transformation of organic bodies into mineral matter. It was not until much later, 360 million years ago, that man discovered the fossils of Erfoud’s stone, mostly cephalopod molluscs and trilobites of the arthropod class, in a perfectly conserved state.
Fossils are closely linked to their environment. For Erfoud stone, the term marble refers to fine-grained limestone rock, where fossils are inlaid, with bluish grey or ochre brown hues due to the clay impurities and iron oxide contained in this limestone.
Erfoud’s opencast quarries are located on the outskirts of the town in the direction of Merzouga and the dunes of the erg Chebbi.
Seduced by this natural manna, the specialized companies created workshops of transformation and opened shops, sometimes in the somewhat misleading name of “museum”, in Erfoud and on the outskirts of the road that joins Merzouga.
We find tables in fossil marble, sinks and basins, fountains, lamp stands, decorative objects, blocks of fossil stones… and many fossils.
We have intentionally omitted to use too many proper names and unfamiliar terms in this little glossary.
Ammonite: Fossil mollusk characteristic of the secondary era, whose shell is partitioned and rolled up. Ammonite belongs to the class of cephalopods.
Arthropods: A branch of invertebrate animals whose bodies are covered with a shell.
Cephalopods: Class of advanced molluscs, carnivorous and marine, with tentacles equipped with suction cups. Octopuses and squid are cephalopods.
Ceratitis: Molluscan marine cephalopod fossil triassic mollusk (order of ammonitidae).
Devonian: Fourth geological period of the primary era in which the first terrestrial vertebrates and vascular plants appeared.
Famennian: Top floor of the upper devonian.
Goniatitis: Devonian marine cephalopod mollusk (order of ammonitized).
Ordovician: Second period of the primary era (between -500 and -435 million years), characterized in particular by the appearance of the first vertebrates.
Orthocera: Ordovician’s fossil cephalopod mollusk, right shell.
Paleontology: The science of living beings that existed during various geological eras, based on the study of fossils.