Presentation on theme: "The National Park Service cares for special places saved by the American people so that all may experience our heritage. Select the program you wish to."— Presentation transcript:
The National Park Service cares for special places saved by the American people so that all may experience our heritage. Select the program you wish to view by clicking on the title. Protecting a 32 Million Year Old Treasure Finding and Preserving the Fossils What Other National Parks Protect Fossil Sites
Think Wind Cave National Park only protects a cave? Think again!
In July of 2003, a routine investigation of known fossil sites in Wind Cave National Park led to a new discovery. A site containing mammal teeth that were lying on the surface was found.
Upon examining the site, fossil remains of five or perhaps six creatures were found. Rhinoceros Subhyracodon Horse Mesohippus tortoise
They include a rhinoceros, a type of deer, an early horse, a tortoise, a rabbit, and a carnivore similar to a dog.
Because the fossils were found on the surface in an area easily eroded, the fossils were excavated, jacketed, and taken to be studied and prepared for display.
Once in a laboratory, the protective plaster and jackets can be removed.
The animal remains can then be removed carefully from the sedimentary material and put back together. Partially reconstructed Subhyracodon jaw with teeth
Fossil discoveries such as this give us a chance to see into the past. Research of this site may provide information on the history of environmental changes in the Black Hills, and help us to understand the changes that are occurring at the present time.
The field of paleontology studies how life has reacted to environmental changes. This knowledge can then be applied to modern life forms and help predict how changes will affect them, and ultimately, humans ourselves.
The National Park Service cares for special places saved by the American people so that all may experience our heritage.
To learn about fossils found in the park, click here.here Do you think that Wind Cave National Park only protects a cave?
Where are other National Park Sites with fossils from the Oligocene Period? Wind Cave National Park is only one of several sites managed by the National Park Service that protects fossils from the Oligocene Epoch. The following pages provide an idea of what you can see at these sites.
Badlands National Park South Dakota Badlands National Park represents one of the classic examples of Oligocene paleontology. Abundant and diverse fossils have been found and studied in this area during most of the 1900s. Exploration of this exciting area continues today.
Big Bend National Park Texas Big Bend National Park preserves a wide variety of fossil creatures ranging from early Cenozoic Era mammals, some similar in age to the ones found in Wind Cave, to older late Cretaceous Period dinosaur fossils.
John Day Fossil Beds National Monument Oregon John Day Fossil Beds National Monument protects one of the longest and most continuous records of evolutionary and environmental change over the last 50 million years in North America. Fossils found here include those both older and younger than ones at Wind Cave.
Agate Fossil Beds National Monument, Nebraska Fossil Butte National Monument, Wyoming Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota Dinosaur National Monument, Colorado Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument, Colorado Yellowstone National Park, Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming Hagerman Fossil Beds National Monument, Idaho More…. Nearby National Park Sites With Other Types of Fossils
Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, Arizona and Utah Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona Guadalupe Mountains National Park, Texas Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, Pennsylvania and New Jersey Channel Islands National Park, California Death Valley National Park, California More National Park Sites With Fossils From Other Periods
The National Park Service cares for special places saved by the American people so that all may experience our heritage. To learn more about the fossil site at Wind Cave National Park click here.here
Protecting a 32 Million Year Old Treasure
Once a fossil is found, how do you study it and move it without completely destroying it?
Should you leave it where it is? Will erosion end up breaking it down completely? All of these questions must be considered when dealing with fossils. Should you remove it? Will moving it damage it?
In the case of the Centennial Site in Wind Cave National Park, fossils from from about 32 million years ago were found at or near the surface. One of the most significant finds was a Subhyracodon commonly called a rhinoceros.
tortoise Mesohippus (primitive horse) Another fossil found at the site was a Mesohippus which was a primitive horse. A tortoise shell was also found.
Day of discovery One month later The fossils laying on the surface were being affected by erosion rather quickly. Only a month after their discovery, the pieces were completely exposed.
Because of the significance of the Subhyracodon (rhinoceros) and its fragile condition paleontologists decided that the fossils should be excavated.
Rock material surrounding the fossil is removed.
Workers are careful to work around the fossil. Nearby soil and clays are stored in buckets.
Remaining material is sifted to make sure fossil pieces have not been left behind.
Once the fossil is exposed, a protective jacket made of burlap dipped in plaster is applied to the top, covering enough surrounding material to keep everything in place.
When the top of the jacket has hardened, the piece is excavated further and flipped over, then the bottom of the piece is jacketed.
Once the entire jacket has hardened, notes are placed on the jacket indicating orientation and contents.
Now the specimen is ready to be moved to a laboratory, where it can be studied under controlled conditions. Moving a 200 to 400 pound jacketed fossil is not easy and requires great care.
In the lab, the jacket is removed and the fossil is once again exposed. The pieces are carefully removed and cleaned and then pieced back together as completely as possible.
Reconstructing a fossil is like putting together a puzzle.
The fossil is now ready for study and possibly display. To view the fossils found in the park, visit the Mammoth Site in Hot Springs.
One the fossil has been preserved, a cast may be made of it. These casts can be used to reproduce the fossil so replicas can be sent to other museums for study or comparison. One fossil from the Wind Cave site still has not been identified. In an attempt to reach an identification, the replica of it is being shared with other paleontologists.
The processes involved from finding the fossil to preserving it are many. Protecting the fossil is only one step. Scientists must also know where the fossil came from, how deep it was, and what was it close to. The soils that surround it also tell a story.
These puzzle pieces are all part of what is needed to understand the past. Through that understanding, we can get a better grasp of our present day environments and the challenges that may face us in the future. To learn more about the fossils at Wind Cave National Park or in other national parks click here. here