Fossil Bones In The Coso Range, California

Visit the Coso Range Wilderness in Inyo County, California, west of Death Valley National Park at the southern end of California's Owens Valley, where vertebrate fossils some 4.8 to 3.0 million years old can be observed in the Pliocene-age Coso Formation: It's a paleontologically significant place that yields many species of mammals, including the remains of Equus simplicidens, the Hagerman Horse, named for its spectacular occurrences at Hagerman Fossil Beds National Monument in Idaho; Equus simplicidens is considered the earliest known member of the genus Equus, which includes the modern horse and all other equids.

Please note that fossil collecting is not allowed within the designated Coso Range Wilderness, except by special permit issued by the Bureau of Land Management--a permit given only to trained scientists with a degree who represent either an accredited university or a museum.

Also, as a special archaeological attraction, the Coso Range contains the largest concentration of prehistoric petroglyph rock art drawings in North America; tours to the world-famous petroglyph sites in Petroglyph Canyon must be arranged through the Maturango Museum in Ridgecrest, California. See the Olancha And Coso Links page for Internet resources pertaining to the Coso Range rock art drawings.

And now for the obligatory words of caution. Endemic to the Mojave Desert of California, including the Las Vegas, Nevada, region by the way, is Valley Fever. This is a potentially serious illness called, scientifically, Coccidioidomycosis, or "coccy" for short; it's caused by the inhalation of an infectious airborne fungus whose spores lie dormant in the uncultivated, harsh alkaline soils of the Mojave Desert. The Coso Mountains lie near the northern known edges of Valley Fever prevalence within the Mojave Desert province. When an unsuspecting and susceptible individual breaths the spores into his or her lungs, the fungus springs to life, as it prefers the moist, dark recesses of the human lungs (cats, dogs, rodents and even snakes, among other vertebrates, are also susceptible to "coccy") to multiply and be happy. Most cases of active Valley Fever resemble a minor touch of the flu, though the majority of those exposed show absolutely no symptoms of any kind of illness; it is important to note, of course, that in rather rare instances Valley Fever can progress to a severe and serious infection, causing high fever, chills, unending fatigue, rapid weight loss, inflammation of the joints, meningitis, pneumonia and even death. Every fossil enthusiast who chooses to visit the Mojave Desert must be fully aware of the risks involved.

The Coso Contents

Field Trip To Coso Fossils

Take a cyber-visit to the bone-bearing Coso Formation badlands.

Coso Range Wilderness Map

Coso Range Wilderness: Wilderness.net

Details pertaining to the Coso Range Wilderness in Inyo County, California.

 Topographic Location Map

A PDF file of a portion of the Olancha 15 minute topographic quadrangle map showing a portion of the fossil-bearing area in the Coso Range Wilderness, courtesy of the California Geological Survey; you will need the free version of Adobe's Acrobat Reader to access the file. This map originally appeared in an article in the Mineral Information Service (later called California Geology), a publication issued by the California Geological Survey.

 Geologic Location Map

A PDF file of a portion of California Division of Mines and Geology Survey Map Sheet 38, Geology of the Keeler 15' Quadrangle Inyo County, California, by Melvine C. Stinson, 1977, courtesy of the California Geological Survey--a map that shows the general location of the vertebrate fossil area in the Coso Range Wilderness area. You will need the free version of Adobe's Acrobat Reader to access the file.

On-Site Images

View some  pictures taken in the Coso Range and in Olancha, California.

Fossil Bones Images

Take a look at some pictures of vertebrate fossils that have been found in the Upper Miocene to Middle Pliocene Coso Formation, Coso Mountains, Inyo County, California.

Fossil Horse Reconstruction

View a skeletal reconstruction of the Hagerman Horse, Equus simplicidens, the most common fossil vertebrate found in the Coso Formation. Image courtesy of Hagerman Valley Historical Society Museum.

Fossil Algae Images

Pictures of fossil algae accumulations from the Upper Miocene to Middle Pliocene Coso Formation, Inyo County, California.

Coso Fossil Mysteries

Take a look at some mystery fossils from the Pliocene Coso Formation, specimens collected several years ago from exposures that were at that date not included in the Coso Range Wilderness. If you happen to know what they are, let me know.

 List Of Vertebrate Fossils

A page which lists the species of vertebrate fossils paleontologists have recovered from the Lower to Middle Pliocene portions (4.8 to 3.0 million years old) of the Coso Formation.

 Crowley Point Pollen List

A page which lists the fossil pollens identified from the Crowley Point Florule in the Middle Pliocene portion of the Coso Formation, Inyo County, California.

Darwin Summit Pollen List

A page which lists the fossil pollens identified from the Darwin Summit Florule in the Middle Pliocene section (roughly 3.0 million years old) of the Coso Formation, Inyo County, California.

 Haiwee Pollen List

A page which lists the fossil pollens identified from the Haiwee Florule in the Middle Pliocene portion (roughly 3.0 million years old) of the Coso Formation, Inyo County, California.

 Panamint Springs Pollen List

A page which lists the fossil pollens identified from the Panamint Spring Florule in the Middle Pliocene section (roughly 3.0 million years old) of the Coso Formation, Inyo County, California.

 The Coso Flora

Read pertinent excerpts from the scientific paper, Late Pliocene floras east of the Sierra Nevada, by D. I. Axelrod and W. S. Ting, 1960, Univ. Calif. Pub. Geol. Sci. v. 39.

 USGS Bulletin 1527

An online version of United States Geological Survey Bulletin 1527, Age of the Coso Formation, Inyo County, California, by Charles R. Bacon, Dennis M. Giovannetti, Wendell A. Duffield, G. Brent Dalrymple, and Robert E. Drake, originally issued in 1982--a Public Domain document. It is here presented in PDF document format, which means that you'll need the free version of Adobe's Acrobat Reader to access the files.

 Links To The Pliocene

A list of Internet resources pertaining to the Pliocene Epoch of the Tertiary Period, Cenozoic Era, which lasted from roughly 5.0 to 1.8 million years ago.

Olancha And Coso Links

Links of interest pertaining to the community of Olancha, southern Owens Valley, Inyo County, California--gateway to the Coso Range Wilderness area; also, links to the Coso Range, with a special emphasis on the world-famous petroglyph rock art found there.

 My Other Web Pages

Visit my music and other fossils-related Web pages I have created.

 My E-Mail Address

Contact me in cyberspace. Comments, suggestions, or questions are all welcomed.

 Introduction

An artist's reconstruction of an extinct horse formerly known as Plesippus, but now called Equus simplicidens, one of the most abundant vertebrate fossil remains found in Pliocene Coso Formation exposures roughly 3.5 to 3.0 million years old. It is considered one of the earliest members of the genus Equus, which includes the modern horse and all other equids.

Here is an image taken several miles northeast of Olancha, Inyo County, California. The view is roughly southeastward to the northern end of the Coso Mountains, within which significant lower to upper Pliocene vertebrate fossil localities occur in the Coso Formation, a predominantly sedimentary rock unit (deposited in lakes, streams and as alluvial fans) that has been dated radiometrically at roughly 6.0 to 3.0 million years old. The Coso Formation contains one of California's best Blancan Stage (roughly 4.75 to 1.8 million years old) fossil mammal faunas, which occurs almost exclusively in the Coso Mountains--an extensive pristine desert district that has been included in the recently established Coso Range Wilderness. All of the vertebrate fossil localities lie within that protected area and are presently off-limits to everyone except professional paleontologists who possess valid collecting permits issued by the Bureau Of Land Management. The fossil vertebrate list includes the bones and teeth of several varieties of Pliocene mammals, including horses, rabbits, packrats, a vole, an extinct bear-dog, a llama, a peccary, a huge extinct bear and a mastodon. Also identified from the Coso Formation have been ostracodes (a minute bivalved crustacean), fish, unusual cabbage-like calcium carbonate accumulations that were precipitated by algae, diatoms, plus many pollen remains that have helped paleobotanists determine just what kind of plant life lived during Coso times roughly four and half to three million years ago, when the mammalian vertebrate remains were also accumulating. There is even convincing palynological (fossil pollen) evidence to indicate that the Pliocene Coso scene, some 4.8 to 3.0 million years ago, at least in part, closely resembled a modern Giant Sequoia forest along the western slopes of the Sierra Nevada mountain range in California.

At this Web site, you'll get a chance to explore the paleontological significance of the Coso Range--it's a rugged, wild desert land situated along the eastern side of the world-famous Owens Valley, and the great Sierra Nevada is in full, fantastic view to the immediate west. Peruse the Coso Menu at left and click on the links to get transported to different aspects of Coso discovery, from fossil bones and plants to world-class prehistoric petroglyph sites.

Special Note: All paleontological specimens figured at this Web site were observed in the ancient sediments long before the fossiliferous Coso Formation exposures were included in the Federally protected Coso Range Wilderness; today, according to Bureau Of Land Management regulations, visitors must not keep fossil specimens found within the Coso Range Wilderness lands without first securing a special use permit, a permit issued solely to qualified scientists, with at least a B.S. degree, from accredited universities and/or museums seeking to undertake research that can be fully verified by independent officials.

Bibliography

Helpful references about the Coso Formation:

Axelrod, D. I. and Ting, W. S., 1960, Late Pliocene floras east of the Sierra Nevada. Univ. Calif. Pub. Geol. Sci. 39, p. 1-118.

Bacon, C. R. , and Duffield, W. A., 1978, Soft-sediment deformation near the margin of basalt sill in the Pliocene Coso Formation, Inyo County, California: Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs v. 10, no. 3, p. 103.

Bacon, C. R., Giovannetti, D. M. , Duffield, W. A., and Dalrymple, G.B., 1979, New Constraints on the Age of the Coso Formation, Inyo County, California: Geological Society of America Abstracts with programs, v. 11, no. 3 p. 67.

Bacon, C. R. , Giovannetti, D. M., Duffield, W. A., Dalrymple, W. A. and Drake R. E., United States Geological Survey Bulletin 1527, Age of the Coso Formation, Inyo County, California, 1982.

Duffield, W. A., and Bacon, C. R.,1981, Geologic map of the Coso volcanic field and adjacent areas, Inyo County, California: United States Geologic Survey Map I-1200, Scale 1:50,000.

Dunne, G. C., 1986, Geologic evolution of the southern Inyo Range, Darwin Plateau, and Argus and Slate Ranges, east-central California: An overview, in Dunne, G. C., eds., Mesozoic and Cenozoic Structural Evolution of Selected Areas, East-Central California: Los Angeles, Geological Society of America Cordilleran Section Field Trip Guidebook, p. 3-21.

Everden, J. F., et al, 1964, Potassium-argon dates and the Cenozoic mammalian chronology of North America. Amer. Jour. Sci., 262.

Hall, W. E., and Mackevett, E. M., Jr., 1962, Geology and ore deposits of the Darwin quadrangle, Inyo County, California: United States Geological Survey Professional Paper 368, 87 p.

Power, W. R. Jr., 1961, Backset beds in the Coso Formation, Inyo County, California,: Journal of Sedimentary Petrology, v. 31, p. 603-607.

Shultz, J. R., 1937, A late Cenozoic vertebrate fauna from the Coso Mountains, Inyo County, California. Carnegie Inst. Wash. Publ. 487, p. 75-109.

Stinson, M. C. 1964, A Trip To A Vertebrate Fossil Locality, California Division of Mines and Geology Mineral Service, v. 17, no. 9, p. 160-163.

Stinson, M. C., 1977, Geology of the Haiwee Reservoir 15' Quadrangle, Inyo County, California, California Division of Mines and Geology Map Sheet 37.

Stinson, M. C., 1977, Geology of the Keeler 15' Quadrangle, Inyo County, California, California Division of Mines and Geology Map Sheet 38.

Walker, J. D., Whitmarsh, R. S., 1997, MAPPING AND GEOLOGIC INTERPRETATION IN THE COSO GEOTHERMAL AREA, Isotope Geochemistry Laboratory and Department of Geology, University of Kansas.

Wilson, R. W., 1932, Cosomys, a new genus of vole from the Pliocene of California, Jour. Mammology, 13.Whitmarsh, R.S., Walker, J.D., Monastero, F.C., 1996, Structural domains within the Coso Range: A case for right-oblique extension: Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs, v. 28, no. 7, p. A-116.

Whitmarsh, R. S., 1997, GEOLOGIC MAP OF THE CENTENNIAL CANYON 7.5' QUADRANGLE; INYO COUNTY, CALIFORNIA.

Whitmarsh, R. S., 1997, GEOLOGIC MAP OF THE VERMILLION CANYON 7.5' QUADRANGLE; INYO COUNTY, CALIFORNIA.

Woodburne, M. O., 1971,Vertebrate Paleontology of the Northern Mojave Desert, Southern California: Field Trip Guide From Death Valley To Riverside, California, March 1971, in Geological Excursions in Southern California, University California Riverside Museum, p. 49-50.

Links To My Other Pages

  • The Acoustic Guitar Solitaire Of Inyo: A Cyber-CD: Listen to me play 30 covers of some of my favorite songs on an acoustic 6-string guitar; it's all free music.
  • Beyond The Timberline--A Cyber-CD: Listen to me play 32 selections comprised of covers and original tunes on acoustic 6 and 12-string guitars; it's all free music.
  • The Distant Path--A Cyber-CD: Listen to me play 32 acoustic guitar covers and original compositions; it's all free music.
  • Inyo And Folks--A Musical History--A Cyber-CD: My parents and I play 110 selections; it's all free music.
  • Acoustic Stratigraphy--A Cyber-CD: Listen to me play 34 covers of some of my favorite songs on 6 and 12-string guitars; it's all free music.
  • Back To Badwater--A Cyber-CD: Listen to me play 32 covers and original compositions on 6 and 12-string guitars; it's all free music.
  • For an all-text page that includes all 332 of my guitar mp3 files placed on the Internet, go to All Inyo All The Time. That's where you'll find access to all of my musical selections, in order of their appearance on the Web--from my first Cyber-CD ("The Acoustic Guitar Solitaire Of Inyo") to the last, "The Rarities And Alternate Recordings Of Inyo."
  • Inyo 7--A Cyber CD Listen to me play 30 covers of some of my favorite songs, plus originals (all free music).
  • The Rarities And Alternate Recordings Of Inyo--A Cyber-CD Listen to me play 32 seldom-heard, rare, alternate recordings of some of my previously released tracks).
  • Jump on over to my page It's A Happening Thing--Music From The Year 1967. Includes YouTube (and other sources) links to all songs that charted US Billboard Top 100 in year 1967 (close to a thousand, as as matter of fact), plus links to records that bubbled under US Billboard's Hot 100 charts that year (releases that placed #101 to #135); peruse, too, my extensive personal database of year 1967 music.

Paleontology-Related Pages

Web sites I have created pertaining to fossils

  • Fossils In Death Valley National Park: A site dedicated to the paleontology, geology, and natural wonders of Death Valley National Park; lots of on-site photographs of scenic localities within the park; images of fossils specimens; links to many virtual field trips of fossil-bearing interest.
  • Fossil Insects And Vertebrates On The Mojave Desert, California: Journey to two world-famous fossil sites in the middle Miocene Barstow Formation: one locality yields upwards of 50 species of fully three-dimensional, silicified freshwater insects, arachnids, and crustaceans that can be dissolved free and intact from calcareous concretions; a second Barstow Formation district provides vertebrate paleontologists with one of the greatest concentrations of Miocene mammal fossils yet recovered from North America--it's the type locality for the Bartovian State of the Miocene Epoch, 15.9 to 12.5 million years ago, with which all geologically time-equivalent rocks in North American are compared.
  • A Visit To Fossil Valley, Great Basin Desert, Nevada: Take a virtual field trip to a Nevada locality that yields the most complete, diverse, fossil assemblage of terrestrial Miocene plants and animals known from North America--and perhaps the world, as well.
  • Fossils At Red Rock Canyon State Park, California: Visit wildly colorful Red Rock Canyon State Park on California's northern Mojave Desert, approximately 130 miles north of Los Angeles--scene of innumerable Hollywood film productions and commercials over the years--where the Middle to Late Miocene (13 to 7 million years old) Dove Spring Formation, along with a classic deposit of petrified woods, yields one of the great terrestrial, land-deposited Miocene vertebrate fossil faunas in all the western United States.
  • Late Pennsylvanian Fossils In Kansas: Travel to the midwestern plains to discover the classic late Pennsylvanian fossil wealth of Kansas--abundant, supremely well-preserved associations of such invertebrate animals as brachiopods, bryozoans, corals, echinoderms, fusulinids, mollusks (gastropods, pelecypods, cephalopods, scaphopods), and sponges; one of the great places on the planet to find fossils some 307 to 299 million years old.
  • Fossil Plants Of The Ione Basin, California: Head to Amador County in the western foothills of California's Sierra Nevada to explore the fossil leaf-bearing Middle Eocene Ione Formation of the Ione Basin. This is a completely undescribed fossil flora from a geologically fascinating district that produces not only paleobotanically invaluable suites of fossil leaves, but also world-renowned commercial deposits of silica sand, high-grade kaolinite clay and the extraordinarily rare Montan Wax-rich lignites (a type of low grade coal).
  • Trilobites In The Marble Mountains, Mojave Desert, California: Take a trip to the place that first inspired my life-long fascination and interest in fossils--the classic trilobite quarry in the Lower Cambrian Latham Shale, in the Marble Mountains of California's Mojave Desert. It's a special place, now included in the rather recently established Trilobite Wilderness, where some 21 species of ancient plants and animals have been found--including trilobites, an echinoderm, a coelenterate, mollusks, blue-green algae and brachiopods.
  • Early Cambrian Fossils Of Westgard Pass, California: Visit the Westgard Pass area, a world-renowned geologic wonderland several miles east of Big Pine, California, in the neighboring White-Inyo Mountains, to examine one of the best places in the world to find archaeocyathids--an enigmatic invertebrate animal that went extinct some 510 million years ago, never surviving past the early Cambrian; also present there in rocks over a half billion years old are locally common trilobites, plus annelid and arthropod trails, and early echinoderms.
  • A Visit To Ammonite Canyon, Nevada: Explore one of the best-exposed, most complete fossiliferous marine late Triassic through early Jurassic geologic sections in the world--a place where the important end-time Triassic mass extinction has been preserved in the paleontological record. Lots of key species of ammonites, brachiopods, corals, gastropods and pelecypods.
  • Fossils In Millard County, Utah: Take virtual field trips to two world-famous fossil localities in Millard County, Utah--Wheeler Amphitheater in the trilobite-bearing middle Cambrian Wheeler Shale; and Fossil Mountain in the brachiopod-ostracod-gastropod-echinoderm-trilobite rich lower Ordovician Pogonip Group.
  • Paleozoic Era Fossils At Mazourka Canyon, Inyo County, California: Visit a productive Paleozoic Era fossil-bearing area near Independence, California--along the east side of California's Owens Valley, with the great Sierra Nevada as a dramatic backdrop--a paleontologically fascinating place that yields a great assortment of invertebrate animals.
  • Late Triassic Ichthyosaur And Invertebrate Fossils In Nevada: Journey to two classic, world-famous fossil localities in the Upper Triassic Luning Formation of Nevada--Berlin-Ichthyosaur State Park and Coral Reef Canyon. At Berlin-Ichthyosaur, observe in-situ the remains of several gigantic ichthyosaur skeletons preserved in a fossil quarry; then head out into the hills, outside the state park, to find plentiful pelecypods, gastropods, brachiopods and ammonoids. At Coral Reef Canyon, find an amazing abundance of corals, sponges, brachiopods, echinoids (sea urchins), pelecypods, gastropods, belemnites and ammonoids.
  • Fossils From The Kettleman Hills, California: Visit one of California's premiere Pliocene-age (approximately 4.5 to 2.0 million years old) fossil localities--the Kettleman Hills, which lie along the western edge of California's Great Central Valley northwest of Bakersfield. This is where innumerable sand dollars, pectens, oysters, gastropods, "bulbous fish growths" and pelecypods occur in the Etchegoin, San Joaquin and Tulare Formations.
  • Field Trip To The Kettleman Hills Fossil District, California: Take a virtual field trip to a classic site on the western side of California's Great Central Valley, roughly 80 miles northwest of Bakersfield, where several Pliocene-age (roughly 4.5 to 2 million years old) geologic rock formations yield a wealth of diverse, abundant fossil material--sand dollars, scallop shells, oysters, gastropods and "bulbous fish growths" (fossil bony tumors--found nowhere else, save the Kettleman Hills), among many other paleontological remains.
  • A Visit To The Sharktooth Hill Bone Bed, Southern California: Travel to the dusty hills near Bakersfield, California, along the eastern side of the Great Central Valley in the western foothills of the Sierra Nevada, to explore the world-famous Sharktooth Hill Bone Bed, a Middle Miocene marine deposit some 16 to 15 million years old that yields over a hundred species of sharks, rays, bony fishes, and sea mammals from a geologic rock formation called the Round Mountain Silt Member of the Temblor Formation; this is the most prolific marine, vertebrate fossil-bearing Middle Miocene deposit in the world.
  • In Search Of Fossils In The Tin Mountain Limestone, California: Journey to the Death Valley area of Inyo County, California, to explore the highly fossiliferous Lower Mississippian Tin Mountain Limestone; visit three localities that provide easy access to a roughly 358 million year-old calcium carbate accumulation that contains well preserved corals, brachiopods, bryozoans, crinoids, and ostracods--among other major groups of invertebrate animals.
  • Middle Triassic Ammonoids From Nevada: Travel to a world-famous fossil locality in the Great Basin Desert of Nevada, a specific place that yields some 41 species of ammonoids, in addition to five species of pelecypods and four varieties of belemnites from the Middle Triassic Prida Formation, which is roughly 235 million years old; many paleontologists consider this specific site the single best Middle Triassic, late Anisian Stage ammonoid locality in the world. All told, the Prida Formation yields 68 species of ammonoids spanning the entire Middle Triassic age, or roughly 241 to 227 million years ago.
  • Fossil Bones In The Coso Range, Inyo County, California: Visit the Coso Range Wilderness, west of Death Valley National Park at the southern end of California's Owens Valley, where vertebrate fossils some 4.8 to 3.0 million years old can be observed in the Pliocene-age Coso Formation: It's a paleontologically significant place that yields many species of mammals, including the remains of Equus simplicidens, the Hagerman Horse, named for its spectacular occurrences at Hagerman Fossil Beds National Monument in Idaho; Equus simplicidens is considered the earliest known member of the genus Equus, which includes the modern horse and all other equids.
  • Fossil Plants At Aldrich Hill, Western Nevada: Take a field trip to western Nevada, in the vicinity of Yerington, to famous Aldrich Hill, where one can collect some 35 species of ancient plants--leaves, seeds and twigs--from the Middle Miocene Aldirch Station Formation, roughly 12 to 13 million years old. Find the leaves of evergreen live oak, willow, and Catalina Ironwood (which today is restricted in its natural habitat solely to the Channel Islands off the coast of Southern California), among others, plus the seeds of many kinds of conifers, including spruce; expect to find the twigs of Giant Sequoias, too.
  • Fossils From Pleistocene Lake Manix, California: Explore the badlands of the Manix Lake Beds on California's Mojave Desert, an Upper Pleistocene deposit that produces abundant fossil remains from the silts and sands left behind by a great fresh water lake, roughly 350,000 to 19,000 years old--the Manix Beds yield many species of fresh water mollusks (gastropods and pelecypods), skeletal elements from fish (the Tui Mojave Chub and Three-Spine Stickleback), plus roughly 50 species of mammals and birds, many of which can also be found in the incredible, world-famous La Brea Tar Pits of Los Angeles.
  • Field Trip To Pleistocene Lake Manix, California: Go on a virtual field trip to the classic, fossiliferous badlands carved in the Upper Pleistocene Manix Formation, Mojave Desert, California. It's a special place that yields beaucoup fossil remains, including fresh water mollusks, fish (the Mojave Tui Chub), birds and mammals.
  • Trilobites In The Nopah Range, Inyo County, California: Travel to a locality well outside the boundaries of Death Valley National Park to collect trilobites in the Lower Cambrian Pyramid Shale Member of the Carrara Formation.
  • Ammonoids At Union Wash, California: Explore ammonoid-rich Union Wash near Lone Pine, California, in the shadows of Mount Whitney, the highest point in the contiguous United States. Union Wash is a ne plus ultra place to find Early Triassic ammonoids in California. The extinct cephalopods occur in abundance in the Lower Triassic Union Wash Formation, with the dramatic back-drop of the glacier-gouged Sierra Nevada skyline in view to the immediate west.
  • A Visit To The Fossil Beds At Union Wash, Inyo County California: A virtual field trip to the fabulous ammonoid accumulations in the Lower Triassic Union Wash Formation, Inyo County, California--situated in the shadows of Mount Whitney, the highest point in the contiguous United States.
  • Ordovician Fossils At The Great Beatty Mudmound, Nevada: Visit a classic 475-million-year-old fossil locality in the vicinity of Beatty, Nevada, only a few miles east of Death Valley National Park; here, the fossils occur in the Middle Ordovician Antelope Valley Limestone at a prominent Mudmound/Biohern. Lots of fossils can be found there, including silicified brachiopods, trilobites, nautiloids, echinoderms, bryozoans, ostracodes and conodonts.
  • Paleobotanical Field Trip To The Sailor Flat Hydraulic Gold Mine, California: Journey on a day of paleobotanical discovery with the FarWest Science Foundation to the western foothills of the Sierra Nevada--to famous Sailor Flat, an abandoned hydraulic gold mine of the mid to late 1800s, where members of the foundation collect fossil leaves from the "chocolate" shales of the Middle Eocene auriferous gravels; all significant specimens go to the archival paleobotanical collections at the University California Museum Of Paleontology in Berkeley.
  • Early Cambrian Fossils In Western Nevada: Explore a 518-million-year-old fossil locality several miles north of Death Valley National Park, in Esmeralda County, Nevada, where the Lower Cambrian Harkless Formation yields the largest single assemblage of Early Cambrian trilobites yet described from a specific fossil locality in North America; the locality also yields archeocyathids (an extinct sponge), plus salterella (the "ice-cream cone fossil"--an extinct conical animal placed into its own unique phylum, called Agmata), brachiopods and invertebrate tracks and trails.
  • Fossil Leaves And Seeds In West-Central Nevada: Take a field trip to the Middlegate Hills area in west-central Nevada. It's a place where the Middle Miocene Middlegate Formation provides paleobotany enthusiasts with some 64 species of fossil plant remains, including the leaves of evergreen live oak, tanbark oak, bigleaf maple, and paper birch--plus the twigs of giant sequoias and the winged seeds from a spruce.
  • Ordovician Fossils In The Toquima Range, Nevada: Explore the Toquima Range in central Nevada--a locality that yields abundant graptolites in the Lower to Middle Ordovician Vinini Formation, plus a diverse fauna of brachiopods, sponges, bryozoans, echinoderms and ostracodes from the Middle Ordovician Antelope Valley Limestone.
  • Fossil Plants In The Dead Camel Range, Nevada: Visit a remote site in the vicinity of Fallon, Nevada, where the Middle Miocene Desert Peak Formation provides paleobotany enthusiasts with 22 species of nicely preserved leaves from a variety of deciduous trees and evergreen live oaks, in addition to samaras (winged seeds), needles and twigs from several types of conifers.
  • Early Triassic Ammonoid Fossils In Nevada: Visit the two remote localities in Nevada that yield abundant, well-preserved ammonoids in the Lower Triassic Thaynes Formation, some 240 million years old--one of the sites just happens to be the single finest Early Triassic ammonoid locality in North America.
  • Fossil Plants At Buffalo Canyon, Nevada: Explore the wilds of west-central Nevada, a number of miles from Fallon, where the Middle Miocene Buffalo Canyon Formation yields to seekers of paleontology some 54 species of deciduous and coniferous varieties of 15-million-year-old leaves, seeds and twigs from such varieties as spruce, fir, pine, ash, maple, zelkova, willow and evergreen live oak
  • High Inyo Mountains Fossils, California: Take a ride to the crest of the High Inyo Mountains to find abundant ammonoids and pelecypods--plus, some shark teeth and terrestrial plants in the Upper Mississippian Chainman Shale, roughly 325 million years old.
  • Field Trip To The Copper Basin Fossil Flora, Nevada: Visit a remote region in Nevada, where the Late Eocene Dead Horse Tuff provides seekers of paleobotany with some 42 species of ancient plants, roughly 39 to 40 million years old, including the leaves of alder, tanbark oak, Oregon grape and sassafras.
  • Fossil Plants And Insects At Bull Run, Nevada: Head into the deep backcountry of Nevada to collect fossils from the famous Late Eocene Chicken Creek Formation, which yields, in addition to abundant fossil fly larvae, a paleobotanically wonderful association of winged seeds and fascicles (bundles of needles) from many species of conifers, including fir, pine, spruce, larch, hemlock and cypress. The plants are some 37 million old and represent an essentially pure montane conifer forest, one of the very few such fossil occurrences in the Tertiary Period of the United States.
  • A Visit To The Early Cambrian Waucoba Spring Geologic Section, California: Journey to the northwestern sector of Death Valley National Park to explore the classic, world-famous Waucoba Spring Early Cambrian geologic section, first described by the pioneering paleontologist C.D. Walcott in the late 1800s; surprisingly well preserved 540-510 million-year-old remains of trilobites, invertebrate tracks and trails, Girvanella algal oncolites and archeocyathids (an extinct variety of sponge) can be observed in situ..
  • Petrified Wood From The Shinarump Conglomerate: An image of a chunk of petrified wood I collected from the Upper Triassic Shinarump Conglomerate, outside of Dinosaur National Monument, Colorado.
  • Fossil Giant Sequoia Foliage From Nevada: Images of the youngest fossil foliage from a giant sequoia ever discovered in the geologic record--the specimen is Lower Pliocene in geologic age, around 5 million years old.
  • Some Favorite Fossil Brachiopods Of Mine: Images of several fossil brachiopods I have collected over the years from Paleozoic, Mesozoic and Cenozoic-age rocks.
  • For information on what can and cannot be collected legally from America's Public Lands, take a look at Fossils On America's Public Lands and Collecting On Public Lands--brochures that the Bureau Of Land Management has allowed me to transcribe.
  • In Search Of Vanished Ages--Field Trips To Fossil Localities In California, Nevada, And Utah--My fossils-related field trips in full print book form (pdf). 98,703 words (equivalent to a medium-size hard cover work of non-fiction); 250 printed pages (equivalent to about 380 pages in hard cover book form); 27 chapters; 30 individual field trips to places of paleontological interest; 60 photographs--representative on-site images and pictures of fossils from each locality visited.

United States Geological Survey Papers (Public Domain)

Online versions of USGS publications

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