Stránská skála National Nature Monument

The flat-topped hill called Stránská skála (310 m) with its rocky walls and abandoned quarries lies on the eastern edge of the city of Brno and in the parish of Slatina. The national nature monument was declared in 1978 on an area of 16.6 ha. Stránská skála NNM is a paleontological and archaeological locality of European significance with thermophilous vegetation on Jurassic limestones and with rich population of specially protected plant and animal species.

The Stránská skála Rocks are a tilted block of Jurassic limestone, which contains many fossilized remains of marine animals. Microorganisms which can be found here include the shells of Radiolarians (Amoebid protozoa). Representatives of the Terebratula and Rhynchonela orders from the brachiopods can also be found here. The most common gastropod cases are from the oysters and scallops. Cephalopods such as nautilus, ammonites and belemnites have been recorded here. Crinoidal limestone is built of fragments of the stems of sea lilies.

Fossilized remains of a great many early Quaternary vertebrates such as birds and fish, European buffalo (Bos primigenius), horses, predecessors of the mammoth, huge deer, elk, rhinoceros and many others have all been found here. Primeval bears lived in the caves. The Woldřichova jeskyně Cave is a locality of great importance and is named after Jan Woldřich, who discovered the tooth of a new species of sabre-toothed tiger (Homotherium moravicum) here in the early 20th century. Tunnelling work at the base of the Stránská skála Rocks opened up the Medvědí jeskyně – Bears Cave with remains of the skeleton of a cave bear (Ursus deningeri) which were more than half a million years old.

The Stránská skála Rocks were first settled by humanoids more than half a million years ago, when the area provided suitable conditions for their lives. Evidence of the first recorded settlement of humanoids in Moravia was found in a small cave at the monument. These finds of tools made from antlers and the crushed bones of large animals have been attributed to the Homo erectus type. The presence of Paleolithic hunters from the period more than 40,000 years ago has been recorded on the plateau. So many stone fragments have been found here that we can be sure the area was a centre of stone tool making. A layer of horse bones was uncovered at the foot of the slope, which indicates that organized hunting took place here more than 18,000 years ago.
The crinoidal limestones from the area were previously used as building and decorative stone. We can still see how many of the Romanesque and Gothic buildings in Brno and its surroundings were built of this attractive rock type.

Several dozen tree and bush species grow in the species-rich woody stands. The open grasslands areas are the home of valuable thermophilous communities with many protected and endangered species. A total of 429 vascular plant species have been recorded at the locality, of which 14 are specially protected and 50 are included in the Red Book of Plant Species in the Czech Republic. A large population of great pasque flower (Pulsatilla grandis) can be seen here in springtime, while other rarer plants here include narrow-leaved flax (Linum tenuifolium), St. Bernard’s lily (Anthericum ramosum), the Siberian bellflower (Campanula sibirica), clustered bellflower (Campanula glomerata), the star of Bethlehem Ornithogalum kochii, the feather-grass Stipa joannis, the bastard toadflax Thesium dollineri, squarrose knapweed (Centaurea triumfettii subsp. axillaris), purple milk-vetch (Astragalus danicus), the aster Aster amellus, the garlic Allium flavum and rue-leaved saxifrage (Saxifraga tridactyles).

The only member of the orchid family to grow here is the military orchid (Orchis militaris). Significant species also include white mountain saxifrage (Saxifraga paniculata), the crucifer Biscutella laevigata and blue moor-grass (Sesleria caerulea). The feather-grass Stipa capillata and the tassel hyacinth (Muscari comosum) can also be found at the monument.

The highly endangered Baltic grayling (Claetis maculosa) lives in the protected area, as does the pyralid moth Anania funebris, the clearwing moth Chamaesphecia dumonti, the burnet moths Zygaena laete and Zygaena punctum, the sloe hairstreak (Satyrium acaciae), blue-spot hairstreak (Satyrium spini), green-underside blue (Glaucopsyche alexis), Adonis blue (Polyommatus bellargus), Meleager’s blue (Polyommatus daphnis), and the false grayling (Hipparchia arethusa). The newly discovered leaf miner Phyllonorycter eugregori only lives at this locality in the Czech Republic. Among the hymenoptera several thermophilous species of solitary bees are of great significance.

The vertebrates are represented by the slowworm (Anguis fragilis), sand lizard (Lacerta agilis), wryneck (Jynx torquilla), golden oriole (Oriolus oriolus), green woodpecker (Picus viridis), spotted flycatcher (Muscicarpa striata), red-backed shrike (Lanius collurio), barred warbler (Sylvia nisoria) and stonechat (Saxicola torquata).