Canada's Tentative List

Anticosti Island, Québec

Anticosti Island is the best natural laboratory in the world for studying fossils and sedimentary strata dating from the Ordovician–Silurian period. This geological period coincides with a critical point in the history of life on Earth - the first mass extinction event. Located in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, Anticosti Island was formed by the accumulation of sedimentary deposits laden with invertebrates, between 435 and 447 million years ago. The island’s rock outcroppings form a continuous sedimentary sequence nearly 1 km thick. The main geological and geomorphic phenomena of Anticosti represent a collection of unique natural processes of exceptional scientific and aesthetic significance. These fossil assemblages show how global change in climate and sea level at the end of the Ordovician caused the extinction of nearly all ocean life on the planet. The outstanding paleontology of Anticosti Island has been recognized for more than a century, and continue to attract top national and international researchers.

The World Heritage criterion that best supports this site is:

  • (viii) Anticosti Island is globally recognized as the outstanding record of fossil life anywhere in the world through the upper Ordovician and lower Silurian time interval. This time period represents a milestone event in the history of the Earth, the first global mass extinction of animal life.