Fossils At Red Rock Canyon State Park, California

This web site is dedicated to the paleontology, geology and natural wonders of Red Rock Canyon State Park

Click Here to go directly to the web page Contents section; and click here for the Introduction

Click on the image for a larger view. The world-famous Red Cliffs along Highway 14, at Red Rock Canyon State Park, Kern County, California, backdrop for many Hollywood movies, videos and commercials. The dramatically colored, geologically sculpted strata belong to the late Miocene Dove Spring Formation of the Ricardo Group, roughly 10 million years old; at the very top is a resistant volcanic tuff breccia. Along the cliff-face, the prominent red bands are channel sandstones, deposited in ancient stream and river channels; the whitish bands represent tuffaceous sandstones, sedimentary material that was subjected to contaminants from volcanic eruptions, ash ejecta; the grayish bands are beds of sandstone that were deposited along great floodplains.

Introduction

Come along on a cyber-visit to world-famous Red Rock Canyon State Park on California's Mojave Desert, which lies roughly 130 miles north of Los Angeles (30 miles north of the town of Mojave)--a noted backdrop for many Hollywood movies, videos and commercials, including of course an early scene in the first Jurassic Park film by Steven Spielberg (there are, of course, no dinosaur remains anywhere near Red Rock Canyon, but Spielberg apparently liked the great desert setting and used it in place of a genuine dinosaur-producing region, such as the badlands of Montana). Red Rock Canyon State Park in California's El Paso Mountains is a classic desert district of badlands and outrageously colored, geologically sculpted strata some 12.5 to 8 million years old, a paleontologically invaluable place that happens to yield the best late Middle Miocene through middle late Miocene (late Barstovian through early late Hemphillian Stages of the Miocene Epoch) vertebrate fossil succession in all the western United States. Some 88 species of fossil plants and animals have been documented from Red Rock Canyon State Park, all collected from what geologists call the Dove Spring Formation of the Ricardo Group. An older, obsolete designation for the fossil-rich strata was the Ricardo Formation. The Dove Spring Formation was deposited primarily by streams, floodplains, lakes, ponds, alluvial outwash, and periodic volcanic activity, which left some 18 distinct layers of volcanic ash and a two basalt flows interbedded in the predominantly sedimentary section.

The fossil floral list from Red Rock Canyon State Park includes eight species of plants known from beautifully preserved petrified woods (in some cases the wood has been opalized)--a classic late Miocene paleobotanical association roughly 10 million years old whose closest modern representatives now live in the Upper Sonoron zone of the San Jacinto Range between San Jacinto Peak and Santa Rosa Mountains, southern California. From the finer-grained, lake-deposited beds in the Last Chance Canyon district of Red Rock Canyon State Park (whose boundaries were expanded only a few years ago to include Last Chance Canyon, by the way), paleobotanists, who refer to the rich fossil plant locality as the Ricardo Flora, have identified Black Locust, Mexican pinyon pine, cypress, California live oak, red-root (New Jersey Tea), acacia, desert thorn and palm (which may have been allied with the modern Washingtonia palm).

Among the vertebrate fossils identified from the late Miocene Dove Spring Formation, abundant skeletal elements have been recovered from animals that lived in diverse paleohabitats. For example, lake and water-loving critters collected from the Ricardo badlands include a small fish (sucker), frogs, toads, three kinds of salamanders, a pond turtle, an extinct goose, an otter and a beaver. Dove Spring Formation animals that would typify a plains-like habitat include ten species of horse, four kinds of camels, two varieties of rhinos, three prongbuck antelopes, a vulture, a pika, two species of ground squirrels, rabbits, deermice and two kinds of extinct proboscidean gomphotheres. Representatives of a brush-land habitat include a peccary, two extinct sheep-like animals called oreodonts, a species of extinct three-toed browsing horse, one ring-tailed cat, a small skunk, a species of short-legged camel, a wolverine, two kinds of weasel-like animals, two varieties of foxes, four different kinds of spiny lizards, a night lizard, a rosey boa, racer snakes, a chipmunk, a hedgehog, two species of gopher-like rodents, two kinds of pocket mice, a bat and three species of small perching birds. Animals that probably frequented areas near permanent bodies of water include two alligator lizards, one species of mole, one kind of small rear-fanged snake and four different types of shrews. And then there are several animals that likely ventured into any kind of habitat they chose to investigate: a very large bear-like animal, six different species of dog, and three large cats, including a saber-tooth; a special thanks here to Dr. David Whistler, retired curator of vertebrate paleontology at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, for compiling this faunal list in his excellent article in the Fall 1982 issue of Terra Magazine, published by the Los Angeles County natural history museum. Dr. Whistler is the world's leading authority on the fossils and geology of Red Rock Canyon State Park. For an excellent, layman's overview of the general geology and fossil wealth of Red Rock Canyon State Park, read the online version of the article that Dr. Whistler had published in the Fall 1982 issue of Terra Magazine for the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, entitled, Red Rock Canyon--A Geologists's Classroom; it's in the Contents menu below, under the heading, Dr. Whistler Article.

Today, of course, fossil collecting is not allowed within the boundaries of Red Rock Canyon State Park--except by special permit from the California State Parks authorities, a permit issued solely to qualified, trained scientists with a degree from an accredited university whose research projects can be verified as authentic by independent investigators.

Please Note: All fossil specimens figured at this web page were spotted well outside the boundaries of Red Rock Canyon State Park on Public Lands, long before the boundaries of Red Rock Canyon were expanded several years ago, an act that assimilated into the state park system rich fossil sites that had once existed outside the borders of Red Rock Canyon State Park.

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. 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.

Contents For: Fossils At Red Rock Canyon State Park, California:

Complete Fossil List 

Here is the complete list of fossil plants and animals identified by paleontologists from the late Miocene Dove Spring Formation of Red Rock Canyon State Park, Kern County, California. It is a PDF file, which means that you'll need the free version of Adobe's Acrobat Reader to access the file. The fossil list was scanned from the scientific paper, Geologic History of the El Paso Mountains Region, by David P. Whistler, San Bernardino County Museum Association Quarterly, Inland Southern California: The Last 70 Million Years, Volume 38 (3 and 4), Fall 1991. According to Dr. Whistler (personal communication), several taxa names have been revised, changed, since publication of the original paper--plus, the horses need revision, "and if anyone gets around to reviewing the big picture of the Camelidae, there will also be changes." Also, Dr. Whislter said that Dr. Xiaoming Wang of the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County is revising the dogs.

The Webber Paleobotanical Report

Read pertinent passages from a classic scientific paper by Irma E. Webber, Woods From The Ricardo Pliocene Of Last Chance Gulch, California, Contributions To Paleontology, Carnegie Institute Of Washington Publication 412, issued in September 1933. This is the definitive paleobotanical study of the fossil woods from Last Chance Canyon, Red Rock Canyon State Park, Kern County, California. Many thanks to the Carnegie Institute of Washington for allowing me to include portions of Webber's paper here.

Dr. Whistler's Article

Here is an online version of an article that Dr. David Whistler, retired curator of vertebrate paleontology at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, wrote for the Fall 1982 issue of Terra Magazine; it is a layman's guide to the paleotological and geological wonders of Red Rock Canyon State Park, Kern County, California--a very interesting and informative piece of writing, indeed, with several quality color photographs of scenery and fossils. The online article is here presented in PDF file format, which means that you'll need the free version of Adobe's Acrobat Reader to access the files. Many thanks to Dr. Whistler for allowing me to upload his Terra Magazine article here.

Vertebrate Fossils

Here are several images of vertebrate fossils from the late Miocene Dove Spring Formation, El Paso Mountains, Kern County, California. All specimens were spotted a number of years ago on Public Lands in exposures of the Dove Spring Formation that at that those dates existed well outside the boundaries of Red Rock Canyon State Park. Recently, the borders of Red Rock Canyon State Park were expanded exponentially to include those bone-bearing and plant-bearing beds that had once occurred on Public Lands, administered by the Bureau of Land Management.

Vertebrate fossils from the late Miocene Dove Spring Formation are of legendary paleontological proportions. The fossil list is amazingly diverse: a small fish (sucker), frogs, toads, three kinds of salamanders, a pond turtle, four different kinds of spiny lizards, a night lizard, a rosey boa, racer snakes, two alligator lizards, one kind of small rear-fanged snake, an extinct goose, a vulture, three species of small perching birds, a pika, two species of ground squirrels, rabbits, deermice, a chipmunk, a hedgehog, two species of gopher-like rodents, two kinds of pocket mice, a beaver, an otter, one ring-tailed cat, a small skunk, a wolverine, a bat, ten species of horse , four kinds of camels, two varieties of rhinos, three prongbuck antelopes, two kinds of extinct proboscidean gomphotheres, a peccary, two extinct sheep-like animals called oreodonts, a species of extinct three-toed browsing horse, a species of short-legged camel, two kinds of weasel-like animals, two varieties of foxes, a very large bear-like animal, six different species of dog, and three large cats, including a saber-tooth.

Fossil Plants

Several images of petrified Black locust wood and palm roots from the late Miocene Dove Spring Formation, El Paso Mountains, California. All specimens were collected from exposures on Public Lands that until recently existed well outside the boundaries of Red Rock Canyon State Park, Kern County, California. All of the classic, world-famous plant-bearing beds now lie within the newly expanded borders of Red Rock Canyon State Park and are completely off-limits to all unauthorized collectors who lack a special use permit from the California State Parks authorities, a permit issued solely to qualified, trained scientists with a degree from an accredited university, whose research projects can be verified as authentic by independent investigators.

The fossil floral list from Red Rock Canyon State Park includes eight species of plants known from beautifully preserved petrified woods (in some cases the wood has been opalized)--a classic late Miocene paleobotanical association roughly 10 million years old whose closest modern representatives now live in the Upper Sonoron zone of the San Jacinto Range between San Jacinto Peak and Santa Rosa Mountains, southern California. From lake-deposited sandstones in the El Paso Mountains, paleobotanists, who refer to the rich fossil plant locality as the Ricardo Flora, have identified Black Locust, Mexican pinyon pine, cypress, California live oak, red-root (New Jersey Tea), acacia, desert thorn and palm (which may have been allied with the modern Washingtonia palm):

Visitors Center 

Photographs of the Visitors Center/Interpretive Center at the entrance to Ricardo Campground, Red Rock Canyon State Park, Kern County, California. The center features several dioramas that help to explain the geologic story behind the rocks one sees at Red Rock Canyon State Park; included are display cases that contain actual vertebrate fossils that paleontologists have collected from the late Miocene Dove Spring Formation in the Red Rock Canyon district. Other displays showcase the rich American aboriginal heritage of the El Paso Mountains area. The center is also a great place to purchase books, maps and various brochures that pertain to the Mojave Desert and nearby Sierra Nevada Mountains. The rangers there are very helpful and enthusiastic, eager to share their knowledge of the natural wonders at Red Rock Canyon State Park:

Red Rock Canyon

Images of Red Rock Canyon State Park, Kern County, California, as seen along Highway 14 during drives through the park:

The Badlands 

Scenes from the 10-million year-old bone-bearing badlands of the late Miocene Dove Spring Formation, El Paso Mountains, Kern County, California:

 Ricardo Campground

Scenes from Ricardo Campground at Red Rock Canyon State Park, Kern County, California; also some images of the rugged, sculpted scenery in the immediate vicinity of the campground.

Last Chance and Hagen Canyons

Images from Last Chance Canyon and Hagen Canyon. Last Chance Canyon is a famous fossil-bearing area of the late Miocene Dove Spring Formation that up until only a few years ago, before the exponential expansion of the park's boundaries, used to lie outside the boundaries of Red Rock Canyon State Park. Last Chance Canyon has yielded to paleobotanists a classic fossil plant deposit known as the Ricardo Flora. Fossil collecting of any kind in Last Chance Canyon is no longer permitted, of course, except by special permit issued by the California State Parks authorities, a permit issued solely to trained, qualified scientists with a degree from an accredited university whose research project can be fully verified as authentic by independent investigators. Hagen Canyon is a major tributary of Red Rock Canyon, proper, and contains some of the best scenery in all the Red Rock Canyon district.

 Wildflowers

Red Rock Canyon State Park, California, and the El Paso Mountains, in general, have long been a noted place to view wildflowers on the Mojave Desert. Red Rock Canyon ranger Mark Faull compiled an excellent, inclusive list of plants identified from Red Rock Canyon State Park ; he's identified 243 wildflower species. Here are some images, from my personal collection, of wildflowers from Red Rock Canyon State Park, California, and vicinity:

Wildflowers: Public Domain

Here are some Public Domain images of wildflowers that were photographed at Red Rock Canyon State Park, California; all images are courtesy of CalPhotos:

Email And Weather

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Weather for the town of Mojave, California; Red Rock Canyon State Park in Kern County lies roughly 25 miles north of Mojave along Highway 14 in the northwestern sector of the Mojave Desert.

Click for Inyokern, California Forecast
Weather for the small community of Inyokern, which is about 30 miles northeast of Red Rock Canyon State Park.

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Weather for the community of Ridgecrest, which is roughly 35 miles northeast of Red Rock Canyon State Park.

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Weather for the city of Palmdale, which lies around 45 miles south of Red Rock Canyon State Park.

Music Pages I Have Created

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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Fossils From The Savage Canyon Formation, Nevada: Images of fossil plants and an insect from a classic Middle Miocene geologic rock formation in Nevada.
  • 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.

United States Geological Survey Papers (Public Domain)

Online versions of USGS publications

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