Wednesday, 3 November 2010

JOHN DAY MAMMAL FOSSIL FIELD TRIP


More than a 100 groups of mammals have been found in the early Miocene (37 – 20 mya) John Day Formation near Kimberly, Oregon. I'm planning a field trip this July to collect in the fossiliferous strata that have yielded beautifully preserved speciments of many of the animals we see domesticated today. Dogs, cats, swine and horses are common. Oreodonts, camels, rhinoceras and rodents have also been found in this ancient deciduous forested area.


Here my talented young paleontologist cousin Spencer is holding a well preserved Oreodont skull.Many sites in Oregon yield beautifully preserved fossil shells laid down over 60 million years. The asteroid that hit the Gulf of Mexico at the end of the Cretaceous caused a seafloor rift that split ancient Oregon. The massive hole left behind as the coastal lands slid northward filled in with sediment, refilling the basin.

These marine sediments were uplifted around the time of the birth of Oregon's Coastal Range. Easily collected and identified (since they look mightly similar to their modern cousins) you can dig for marine fossils all along Oregon's beachfront. I'll post some photos when I return from collecting later this year.

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