When the earth was younger, about 280 million years ago, the Great Karoo was a vast swamp. Over the aeons, the swamp of prehistory, where mammal-like reptiles once ruled, disappeared. It gradually changed to a desert with rugged beauty and eternal rock layers that hid the secrets of this ancient land, guarding them for the caring few.

The swamp’s transition to desert started about 280 million years ago when the climate began to change. Temperatures climbed and the world grew warmer, slowly drying. The huge lake, an inland see, fed by a network of north-flowing rivers, began to silt up. Glaciers and vast ice sheets slowly slid downwards, bringing with them abundant rock debris.

The streams became sludge and winds carried debris into the lake where layer upon layer of sediment and silt slowly built up, burying the skeletons of aquatic creatures that lived at that time. Over the next 100 million years the lush plant growth on the land wilted and swamp creatures battled for survival as food dwindled. They plodded the rim of the lake in search of anything edible, leaving in the mud footprints and tail drag marks.

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