2002 Denver Annual Meeting (October 27-30, 2002)

Paper No. 2
Presentation Time: 2:00 PM


PARKER, William G., CLEMENTS, Sue, WOODY, Daniel T. and BEPPLER-DORN, Karen, Division of Resource Management, Petrified Forest National Park, P.O. Box 2217, Petrified Forest, AZ 86028, William_Parker@nps.gov

Petrified Forest National Park in northeastern Arizona is renowned for its vast deposits of fossilized wood from the late Triassic Period. Just as important, however, are the numerous leaf, invertebrate, vertebrate and trace fossil sites that occur within the park sediments. The combination of the vast geological and fossil data from the park provides researchers and visitors with a unique glimpse into an ecosystem from 220 million years ago. Eighty years of paleontological research has resulted in the discovery of hundreds of fossil sites including over 250 vertebrate sites. Unfortunately most of the locality data for these sites is either ambiguous or nonexistent. Since its inception in May of 2001, a paleontological inventory has resulted in the relocation and documentation of over 80, or 30% of the vertebrate sites. Site documentation includes photographs, specimen information, stratigraphic and geological information, as well as global positioning data. The purpose of this inventory is to create a working database for resource management decisions and ongoing paleontological research and to establish protocol for future, periodic monitoring of fossil sites. In addition, this project will provide the basis for establishment of a future paleontological resource management plan for the park. As a result of the inventory, 25 new vertebrate localities have been discovered with several important vertebrate specimens being salvaged. These finds include two partial phytosaur skeletons, a small sphenosuchian, and most notably a very rare, relatively complete aetosaur skeleton that is only the second collected to date from Arizona. Future plans involve preparation and publication of these specimens to disseminate scientific information and to increase visitor awareness of the paleontological resources from the park.