Paper No. 96-10
Presentation Time: 10:30 AM
AN UPDATED INVENTORY OF PALEONTOLOGICAL RESOURCES FROM THE NATIONAL PARK SERVICE'S MOJAVE DESERT INVENTORY & MONITORING NETWORK
The parks of the Mojave Desert Inventory & Monitoring Network (MOJN) of the National Park Service (NPS) include some of the most fossil-rich parks in the NPS. We have recently completely revised and updated our initial (2004) paleontological resources inventory to take into account a wealth of new information. MOJN fossils are abundant and taxonomically diverse, and represent forms of life from over a billion years of geologic history. Death Valley National Park is the most outstanding park, with a marine invertebrate record spanning almost the entire Paleozoic and a world-class assemblage of Pliocene mammal and bird tracks. The fossils of remote Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument are little known at present, but geographically and temporally bridge the Grand Canyon on the south and the northern Colorado Plateau on the north and east. Great Basin NP has recently been found to contain excellent Cambrian and Ordovician marine invertebrate fossils, as well as abundant Pleistocene cave fossils. Joshua Tree NP contains a late Pleistocene mammal fauna dominated by horses and camels, similar in many ways to the better-known fossils of Tule Springs Fossil Beds NM. Lake Mead National Recreation Area preserves fossils from numerous time periods and taxonomic groups. Although in situ fossils are not yet known from Manzanar National Historic Site, a fossiliferous cobble was found in its archeological collections, and probably represents something transported there when the Manzanar camp was in operation during World War II. Mojave National Preserve is perhaps second only to Death Valley NP for MOJN fossils, and the two parks have similar fossil records. Finally, the recently established Tule Springs Fossil Beds NM contains an outstanding record of life over the past 100,000 years, and is of great interest for the study of climate change in the Southwest. The only park unit within the MOJN not yet established as fossiliferous is Castle Mountains NM (not part of the I&M program, but geographically within the network). The fossils of the MOJN have great potential for use in understanding past climates and ecologies, topics which are of interest for management in these desert areas. This updated inventory aims to stimulate future research, education, interpretation, and proper resource management.