United States Geological
Survey Papers (Public Domain)
of USGS publications
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.
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.
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. Yields insects, leaves, seeds, conifer needles
and twigs, flowering structures, pollens, petrified wood, diatoms,
algal bodies, mammals, amphibians, reptiles, bird feathers, fish,
gastropods, pelecypods (bivalves), and ostracods.
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.
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.
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).
Age Fossils At Santa Barbara, California--Journey
to the famed So Cal coastal community of Santa Barbara (about
a 100 miles north of Los Angeles) to explore one of the best
marine Pleistocene invertebrate fossil-bearing areas on the west
coast of the United States; that's where the middle Pleistocene
Santa Barbara Formation yields nearly 400 species of pelecypod
bivalve mollusks, gastropods, chitons, scaphopods, pteropods,
brachiopods, bryozoans, corals, ostracods (minute bivalve crustaceans),
worm tubes, and foraminifers.
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
Plants In The Neighborhood Of Reno, Nevada: Visit
two famous fossil plant localities in the Great Basin Desert
near Reno, Nevada--a place to find leaves, seeds, needles, foilage,
and cones in the middle Miocene Pyramid and Chloropagus Formations,
15.6 and 14.8 to 13.3 million years old, respectively.
Fossil Leaves At Del Puerto Creek, California: Journey
to the western edge of California's Great Central Valley to explore
a classic fossil leaf locality in an upper Cretaceous section
of the upper Cretaceous to Paleocene Moreno Formation; the plants
you find there lived during the day of the dinosaur.
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.
Fossils At The La Porte Hydraulic Gold Mine, California:
Journey to a long-abandoned hydraulic gold mine in the neighborhood
of La Porte, northern Sierra Nevada, California, to explore the
upper Eocene La Porte Tuff, which yields some 43 species of Cenozoic
plants, mainly a bounty of beautifully preserved leaves 34.2
million years old.
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.
Plants At The Chalk Bluff Hydraulic Gold Mine, California:
Take a field trip to the Chalk Bluff hydraulic gold mine, western
foothills of California's Sierra Nevada, for leaves, seeds, flowering
structures, and petrified wood from some 70 species of middle
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.
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.
Plants, Insects And Frogs In The Vicinity Of Virginia City, Nevada:
Journey to a western Nevada badlands district near Virginia City
and the Comstock Lode to discover a bonanza of paleontology in
the late middle Miocene Coal Valley Formation.
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
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 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.
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.
Sierra Nevada Fossil Plants, Alpine County, California:
Visit a remote fossil leaf and petrified wood locality in the
Sierra Nevada, at an altitude over 8,600 feet, slightly above
the local timberline, to find 7 million year-old specimens of
cypress, Douglas-fir, White fir, evergreen live oak, and giant
sequoia, among others.
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.
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.
Miocene Fossil Leaves At Verdi, Washoe County, Nevada:
Explore a fascinating fossil leaf locality not far from Reno,
Nevada; find 18 species of plants that prove that 5.8 million
years ago this part of the western Great Basin Desert would have
resembled, floristically, California's lush green Gold Country,
from Placerville south to Jackson.
Along The Loneliest Road In America: Investigate the
extraordinary fossil wealth along some 230 miles of The Loneliest
Road In America--US Highway 50 from the vicinity of Eureka, Nevada,
to Delta in Millard County, Utah. Includes on-site images and
photographs of representative fossils (with detailed explanatory
text captions) from every geologic rock deposit I have personally
explored in the neighborhood of that stretch of Great Basin asphalt.
The paleontologic material ranges in geologic age from the middle
Eocene (about 48 million years ago) to middle Cambrian (approximately
505 million years old).
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.
Trip To A Vertebrate Fossil Locality In The Coso Range, California: Take a cyber-visit to the famous bone-bearing
Pliocene Coso Formation, Coso Mountains, Inyo County, California;
includes detailed text for the field trip, plus on-site images
and photographs of vertebrate fossils.
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.
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.
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.
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, 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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, 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
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.
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.
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 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,
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 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.
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.