Of The Paleontology/Geology Field Trips
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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
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.
Visit To The Sharktooth Hill Bone Bed, 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 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.
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.
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.
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
Trip To The Kettleman Hills Fossil Field In Kings County, 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.
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.
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.
Plants At Aldrich Hill, 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.
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.
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.
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.
Visit To The Fossil Beds At Union Wash, 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
Inyo Mountains Fossils: 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.
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.
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.
Wood: An image of a chunk of petrified wood I collected
from the Upper Triassic Shinarump Conglomerate, outside of Dinosaur
National Monument, Colorado.
From The Savage Canyon Formation, Nevada: Images of
fossil plants and an insect from a classic Middle Miocene geologic
rock formation in Nevada.
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.
Favorite Brachiopods Of Mine: Images of several fossil
brachiopods I have collected over the years from Paleozoic, Mesozoic
and Cenozoic-age rocks.