Paleonet: Spanish Graptolite locality

Juan Carlos Gutiérrez-Marco jcgrapto at
Mon Apr 23 18:50:11 GMT 2007

Dear colleagues and friends,

I write to ask your help in preserving a famous fossil locality in the Silurian of Spain.  It is the site at Salas de la Ribera in the province of Leon (NW Spain), where there exists a remarkably continuous stratigraphic succession from the Wenlock into the basal Ludlow. The most interesting aspect of the locality is the presence of Homerian black shales with thousands of synrhabdosomes of Colonograptus deubeli (Jaeger), studied by Alf Lenz and myself in 1998 (Paleobiology 24: 37-48).

At the present moment, there is a rare opportunity to have the locality declared by the governmental authorities as a Bien de Interes Cultural (benefit of cultural interest), a legal declaration that ensures future protection of the site. In addition, it allows for the allocation of public funds for extensive excavations that will expose large bedding surfaces of black shale covered with synrhabdosomes and eurypterids. For this reason, I very much would appreciate your sending me letters of support for this initiative (in English or in Spanish) with the letters addressed to the mayor of Puente de Domingo Florez (a territory in which is located Salas de la Ribera). Because elections will be held soon and the regional and local government might change, it is critical that the letters be sent immediately. I will attach them to a proposal that I must finish and submit within 7 days. It is very important that the letters be printed on official letterhead stationary of your institution in order to demonstrate to the politicians the international interest in and support for the proposal. See below an example of a letter that could be prepared by you and sent with little or no modification. It would be most helpful if you could send it urgently to my e-mail address as a JPEG image or pdf file in color. The hard copy of the original can be sent by regular mail (post) directly to the mayor.


Once the locality is declared Bien de Interes Cultural, it will be excavated, cleaned, and carefully collected. It is certain that dozens of excess specimens of synrhabdosomes will be available for donation with our pleasure to your museums and universities in compensation for your kind support.

I thank you for your quick response and positive support. 

I send you my most cordial greeting.

Juan Carlos

Juan Carlos Gutiérrez-Marco
Instituto de Geología Económica (CSIC-UCM)
Facultad de Ciencias Geológicas
28040 Madrid, Spain
jcgrapto at
(34) 913 944 874

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Please send the personal letter on official stationary of your institution to:

Excmo. Sr. Alcalde
Calle Rodolfo Martín Villa 1
24380 Puente de Domingo Flórez (León)

                                                                                                                   (place and date)

Dear Sir:

Through our colleague Juan Carlos Gutiérrez-Marco, a member of the Spanish Council for Scientific Research (CSIC), we learned of the plans of your municipality to declare the paleontological site of Salas de la Ribera as "Bien de Interés Cultural".  We write to express our support for this initiative because of the scientific interest in this classic graptolite locality in the Silurian strata of Spain.  The exceptional international interest in this locality is due to the extraordinary abundance of graptolite synrhabdosomes in black shale of Homerian age and to it being the only fossil locality in the world that serves to confirm that these rare structures are authentic paleobiological entities.

The plans for further excavation and study of this site, once the proposal for legal protection is approved, are also very important.  Because the graptolite rhabdosomes are exceedingly rare fossils worldwide, I take the occasion to request formally the donation of some of the thousands of fossils that will be excavated, prepared and studied from this exceptional site.  The specimens donated will be incorporated officially into the scientific collections of the (museum/university ...... ) of which I am a member.

In expectation of the prompt approval of the declaration of the paleontological site of Salas de la Ribera as "Bien de Interés Cultural", I send you a most cordial greeting.

                                                 Name (Prof., Dr.,...)
                                                 position (optional)

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