Ischigualasto Provincial Park (Spanish: Parque Provincial Ischigualasto), also called Valle de la Luna ("Valley of the Moon" or "Moon Valley"), due to its moon like appearance, is a provincial protected area in the north-east of San Juan Province, north-western Argentina, limiting to the north with the Talampaya National Park, in La Rioja Province. Both areas belong to the same geological formation, the Ischigualasto Formation (sometimes called the Ischigualasto-Talampaya Formation). Established on 3 November 1971, the park has an area of 60,370 ha (603.7 km2; 233.1 sq mi).

In 2000, UNESCO included Ischigualasto and Talampaya National Park among its World Heritage Sites.

The name Ischigualasto is derived from the extinct Cacán language, spoken by an indigenous group referred to as the Diaguita by the Spanish conquistadors and means "place where the moon alights".[1] Another hypothesis gives the name "Ischigualasto" a Quechua origin, meaning "dead land",[citation needed] although some scholars have proposed Huarpe roots.[citation needed]

The first paleontological description of Ischigualasto dates from 1930. In 1941 the area was studied in more detail, which led to the discovery of 70 species of fossil plants. The region received for the first time the name Valle de la Luna in 1943, in a publication edited by the Automobil Club Argentino. That year, Dr. Ángel Cabrera of University of La Plata described the traversodontid Exaeretodon—the first cynodont found in Ischigualasto—after samples sent by a geologist prospecting for coal on behalf of an Argentine mining company.[2]

Academic work and geological prospecting proceeded slowly until 1958, when Dr. Alfred Sherwood Romer, a Harvard University expert in ancient mammals, discovered several rich fossil beds which he described as "extraordinary".

^ (in Spanish) El lugar donde se posa la luna ^ Cabrera 1943.
Photographies by:
Pablo Bruno D'Amico from Buenos Aires, Argentina - CC BY-SA 2.0
The original uploader was As578 at English Wikipedia. - CC BY-SA 2.5
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