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Meteorites and Dinosaurs: Yucatán’s Extraordinary Prehistoric Past

26 may 2023
5 min. de lectura

When you think of Yucatán as a land of history, most people think of pyramids and haciendas. However, thousands of millennia before the first humans walked the Earth, this land had already been ground zero for one of the most impactful events in our planet's history.   


Five mass extinctions have shaped the course of life on Earth, the most recent being 66 million years ago when an asteroid hit present-day Chicxulub. The impact wiped out most life on the planet, decimating the dinosaurs and making way for the rise of mammals. Fast forward to the 1980s, and scientists notice that the near-perfect ring pattern of cenotes in the Yucatán corresponds to the edge of a massive crater below. Today, there are two landmarks planted upon this site, 30 minutes north of Mérida, and I recently took my family to see them: the Meteorite Museum in Progreso, and the Sendero Jurásico (Jurassic Trail) in Chicxulub.  



Museo del Meteorito

Museo del Meteorito, dinosaur, by Monica Starling

You can’t miss the Meteorite Museum with its giant dinosaur heads reaching up past the long façade of Maya arches. It waits on the beach, holding the story of Yucatán’s Chicxulub meteorite in the form of a 45-minute tour. An on-site café and bathroom means no preparations are needed before going in, so use it as an easy mid-day break from the sun, or as an exciting start to an evening walk (the promenade connects it to the playgrounds just beyond the pier).   Museo del Meteorito, dinosaur by Monica Starling


After a short wait in the shaded courtyard featuring dinosaur sculptures and views to the sea, a guide walked us slowly through each of the six galleries, giving us time to absorb the narrative and interact with exhibits. We learned about meteorites (there are real pieces to touch), watched the history of the universe (via 360-degree video displays), learned the story of the Chicxulub Crater (several fossil exhibits are on display), and interacted with dinosaurs (there are several large, moving replicas). If your kids are as mesmerized by the dinosaurs as mine were, then you will definitely want to head over afterwards to the Jurassic Trail just a ten minute drive away.  



Sendero Jurásico 

What better place than Chicxulub to pay homage to the dinosaurs! The Jurassic Trail features a linear outdoor path that takes about thirty minutes to walk, but give yourselves a couple hours to fully enjoy it. The trail opens at 5 pm to ensure its visitors are there during the cooler hours. There’s a bathroom at the entrance, and another at the food area (where they sell tacos, pizza, etc.) halfway down the trail.   


Have some change on hand since the activities, snacks, and souvenirs cost around $50 pesos. Also, know that at the end of the trail there is a 15-minute puppet show that begins around 5:30, and then again around 7 pm. It’s really fun for the kids, so it's definitely worth going. Still, don’t rush them through the trail to make it happen (my mistake)—plan on stopping often to follow their curiosity.   


Sendero Jurásico, dinosaurs by Monica StarlingMy kids found plenty to do here. They interacted with the large mechanical dinosaurs on either side of the trail, fed the turtles at the turtle sanctuary, uncovered fossils buried in sand, and painted a picture of a dinosaur. The grown-ups enjoyed ourselves too, looking over the informational plaques and simply enjoying the stroll as the views here are breathtakingly beautiful. The trail lies adjacent to a scenic marsh, so just beyond the striking dinosaur silhouettes we caught glimpses of migrating birds (we even saw a flamingo up close that was there in recovery)!   


Of the two places, we couldn’t choose a favorite. My oldest liked the museum the most, and my youngest preferred the trail. As for me, I left with a profound awareness of the land that I’m standing on.  


Museo del Meteorito C.19 #142, Boulevard Turístico Malecón, Progreso Cel. 999 942 1900 www.culturyucatan.com IG & FB: Museo del Meteorito de Progreso Yucatán Tue. – Sun. 11 am – 6:30 pm Entry: $350 pesos / $250 pesos nationals ($100 kids)   


Sendero Jurásico   Carretera Progreso – Chicxulub, Progreso Cel. 999 588 4024 www.senderojurasico.com IG & FB: Sendero Jurásico Mon. – Sun. 5 pm – 11 pm Entry: $300 pesos / $200 pesos nationals ($100 kids)    


Monica Starling

Author: Monica Starling

Writer, architect and mom, living in the Yucatán since 2007.

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