Paper No. 3
Presentation Time: 8:45 AM
AN INVENTORY OF PALEOBOTANICAL RESOURCES FROM NATIONAL PARK SERVICE AREAS
A recent inventory of paleontological resources from National Park Service areas yielded a list of 128 parks that have documented plant fossils. Collectively, these paleobotanical resources reflect a taxonomically diverse representation of fossil plants which span from the Precambrian to the Recent. Petrified wood, leaves, flowers, seeds, cones, nuts, roots, pollen, amber and other types of fossil plant remains preserved in park strata all contribute to scientific understanding of ancient environments (paleoecology), past climates (paleoclimatology) and the evolutionary history of plants. The early Permian Hermit Shale at Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona, preserves a semi-arid floral assemblage including horsetails, seed ferns (Pteridosperms), ginkgos and conifers. Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona, is world renowned for the concentration of petrified logs within the Late Triassic Chinle Formation. At least nine species of petrified trees, more than two hundred plant macrofossil taxa and fossil amber are documented from the park. The Late Cretaceous Javelina Formation at Big Bend National Park, Texas, has yielded over 80 species of fossil plants including cypress, mangroves, and conifers. Eocene volcaniclastic rocks at Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, preserve standing petrified trees and plant macrofossils first collected by members of the Hayden Survey in the 1870s. Over 150 fossil plant taxa are described from Yellowstone, and there are 111 holotype fossil plant specimens reported from this locality. The Clarno Nut beds at John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, Oregon, preserve evidence of 175 species of Middle Eocene plants including oaks, walnuts, chestnuts, magnolias, and palms. Research at Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument, Colorado, has utilized the rich and well preserved macrofossil flora and the more than 130 pollen species to interpret the Eocene paleoclimate. A comprehensive inventory of the plant fossil resourced found on public lands will aid in our understanding of past climates and ecosystems that have existed across North America through time.