Layers of History and Beauty
Words: Sylvester Dunvad
Photos: Alastair Philip Wiper
Located on the southern coast of Denmark’s biggest island, Zealand, lies Møns Klint, a truly beautiful piece of Danish nature, dating back as far as 70 million years. The beautiful coast side boasts a height of 128 metres and a length of 7 kilometres – and every square meter is absolutely filled with history.
When walking around Møns Klint, one is actually walking around on no less than 70 million years of ancient history. Back then, Denmark was entirely covered by a lukewarm warm ocean, consisting of loads of different animals and tiny algae with an outer shield mainly consisting of calcium which slowly, but steadily died off, fell to the bottom of the ocean and formed a thick layer of chalk.
Over the next long period of time, life in the ocean slowly faded out. The dinosaurs met their eventual faith and went extinct, continents slowly formed and mountains were shaped on the surface of the Earth. And just before the last ice age reached what would later become Denmark, the chalk layer at the bottom of the ocean, rose up above the surface of the ocean before being completely covered by ice.
This gigantic layer of ice managed to ‘peel off’ enormous flakes of the chalk layer. These enormous flakes of chalk got pushed, folded and mashed up against each other like were they wrestling, and ended up forming the area, that would later be known as Høje Møn (the surrounding area to Møns Klint). The ice once again melted away, allowing for time and weather to form what we know Møns Klint to look like today. The layers of chalk found on Møns Klint today, consists mainly of skeletons of ancient sea creatures. Octopuses, sea urchins, clams and plain old algae all helped contribute to the beautiful, white chalk surface we admire today. Most of these subspecies of octopuses, sea urchins and clams went extinct at some point in time, but sometimes a lucky visitor will find some fossilized remains in the limestone, allowing a peak into what life looked like some 70 million years ago.
Besides Møns Klint's consistency of prehistoric life, the environment has an entire collective of biotopes. The combination of limestone in the subsoil, the dry local climate and the agricultural use, based primarily of grazing by livestock, has created some of Denmark's richest grasslands. Møns Klint is also the home of the worlds fastest animal in action. The peregrine falcon can sometimes be spotted hunting down pray with mind-blowing speeds of up to 180 km/h – sometimes up to 300 km/h when plummeting at full speed. After an absence of about 30 years, the bird has finally returned to Møns Klint, where it now lives and breeds to the joy of crowds watching in awe.
Møns Klint's appearance changes constantly as a result of decomposition. It is possible to follow the cliff on foot throughout its extent along the coast, although slippage occasionally creates natural obstacles.