Gagaty Sołtykowskie – reserve

This place can be reached by driving from Skarżysko-Kamienna in the direction of Końskie. Less than a kilometre before Odrowąż, we turn north and take the gravel road up to a mid-forest clearing where a car park is located. We then walk north along the marked trail. The excavation located amidst forests was used for extracting early-Jurassic loam from 199 Ma, used in the production of pottery. After closing down, the mine became a true paradise for jet prospectors. The region of Sołtykowo is the only place in Poland with jet deposits. This unique type of coal from which the expression “jet-black” is derived, was sought after because of its use as a material for making elements of jewellery. In Poland, during the November and January uprisings women wore jet jewellery as a sign of mourning after the lost independence. The times when jet was highly popular are gone, but it was during the exploration of this excavation that a different curiosity was found – dinosaur footsteps, traces of nests and egg fossils. The “Gagaty Sołtykowskie” reserve took under legal protection the excavation where the fossil flood plain ecosystem with its well preserved dinosaur traces is exposed. Amongst these there are traces of herds of herbivorous sauropods. Traces of young carnivorous theropods, that surrounded the herbivorous sauropods when hunting, were also found. This is proof that the dinosaurs cooperated much like contemporary crocodiles do. Sołtykowo is a unique site, unlike any in Europe.

The dinosaur traces were preserved because they were left on a swampy bank of a lazy river and soon after that they were covered with further sediment. The numerous plant fossils found here attest that this was an area of river rushes. However, this was not grass overgrowth (grasses evolved in the middle Paleogenic period – i.e. over 160 million years later). The vegetation included ferns, cycads, horsetails and coniferous plants. Fossilised shells of mussels and snails, as well as insect (cicada) larvae have also been found here.