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Digital Subscriptions > Rock&Gem Magazine > August 2019 > PALEONTOLGY IN THE PARKS


Our National Parks Protect and Present Fossils
The National Park Service has ten parks and monuments dedicated to fossils and paleontology (STEVE VOYNICK)

What do rare insect and fish fossils, an abundance of petrified wood, a rock wall studded with 1,500 dinosaur bones, working fossil quarries, and paleontological laboratories have in common? The answer is that all can be seen in certain parks and monuments of the National Park Service. Our national parks and national monuments are a treasure trove for anyone interested in fossils and paleontology. Although most of the National Park Service’s 177 parks and monuments are involved with fossils in some manner, ten exist specifically to protect, preserve, study, and interpret paleontological resources.

These ten paleontology-oriented parks and monument represent a huge span of geological time from the late Triassic Period 225 million years ago to the Pleistocene ice ages just 15,000 years ago. The fossils they display range from tiny insects to the bones of huge dinosaurs. The largest of these “paleontology parks” covers 379 square miles, the smallest just a few acres. The oldest dates to 1906; the newest was established only in 2015.


This wonderfully detailed fossil of an extinct stingray is exhibited at Wyoming’s Fossil Butte National Monument.

Here’s a nutshell account of our paleontologyoriented national parks and monuments:

Petrified Forest National Park

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Rock & Gem August 2019,