Friday, June 3, 2016

Geo-challenge in Space and Time

The American Serengeti. Where are we ... and when?
Be forewarned, happy scavenger—good times never last.
The rolling land is covered in grass, for as far as the eye can see. Hackberry trees, tall grasses and lush forbs line the streams … usually. But not now. Instead, there are hordes of thirsty starving animals. Predators feast upon easy prey, but soon they die too, as do the scavengers—all victims of a terrible drought. Yet it was because of climate change that they lived at all.

The bones pile up, are buried in sediment, become encased in rock. Then a cattle rancher finds some sticking out of a hillside, leading to a remarkable fossil quarry with millions of well-preserved bones. The animals rise again, to dwell in air-conditioned comfort.
“The valleys … although largely uninhabitable, are full of interest to the geologist. Located along these rivers is one of those grand cemeteries of extinct animals which have excited the wonder of intelligent men all over the world.” — Ferdinand Vandeveer Hayden, 1871
Where on Google Earth?


  1. I know where I would want it to be from your description - the Crazy Mtn Basin late Paleocene of Montana. But I cannot for the life of me reconcile that GoogleEarth image.

    1. Interesting, Lynn--maybe the same critters were living in both places. This is harder than I thought it would be. It's Agate Fossil Beds National Monument in Nebraska--little-known out-of-the-way unit of the National Park Service.