Paper No. 113-8
Presentation Time: 3:30 PM
PROACTIVE PALEONTOLOGICAL RESOURCE INVENTORY AND MONITORING CULMINATES IN IMPORTANT FOSSIL DISCOVERIES WITHIN NATIONAL PARK SERVICE AREAS
During the past three decades, paleontological resource inventory and monitoring have helped to uncover previously unknown and scientifically valuable fossils within National Park Service areas. At least 282 NPS units and affiliated areas collectively preserve a diverse record of fossil plants, invertebrates, vertebrates, and ichnofossils that spans more than a billion years of Earth’s history. Paleontological resource inventories help to identify the scope, significance, distribution, and management issues associated with fossils. Paleontological resource monitoring assesses the stability and condition of in situ fossils. Both inventory and monitoring of paleontological resources are specifically mandated in the Paleontological Resources Preservation Act (2009) and are important resource management activities undertaken by the National Park Service Paleontology Program. New and rare specimens of fossil taxa have been identified during park-based fossil inventory and monitoring. At least 60 species of previous undocumented Mississippian sharks and other chondrichthyans have been identified at Mammoth Cave National Park. New species of Paleozoic brachiopods have been formally named and published from several national parks in Alaska. Two rare chimaerid egg cases have been discovered in Cretaceous marine strata at Mesa Verde National Park. Thousands of Late Pleistocene mummified bats have been recently discovered in a remote cave in Grand Canyon National Park. Paleontological resource monitoring has led to the recovery of two Miocene long-nose dolphin skulls at George Washington Birthplace National Monument. Recent fossil inventories at White Sands National Park have uncovered fossil footprints that confirm the co-occurrence of Late Pleistocene megafauna and humans. Many of these new discoveries have gained scientific, public, and media attention, substantiating the value and benefit gained through proactive paleontological resource inventory and monitoring in the national parks.