This site previoisly was a phosphate mining operations at Langebaan during the late 1950s. It exposed one of the richest fossil sites the world has ever seen, and since then the bones of some 200 different kinds of animals, some of them hitherto unknown to the world of science, have been recovered.
In 1993 mining operations stopped, and a 14 hectare area within the former mine property was declared a national heritage site, run today by the Iziko Museums of Cape Town. The West Coast Fossil Park lies on the R45 close to the Langebaanweg Air force base, roughly 120 kilometres north of Cape Town.
Today the heritage site is recognized as containing the deposit of possibly the greatest diversity of five million year old fossils in the world, and over 70 scientific papers have been published about the fossils.