Fossil Dolphins at George Washington Birthplace National MonumentYou may remember from a couple of months ago the announcement of shark fossils from within the cave system of Mammoth Cave National Park, embedded in the Mississippian-aged rocks which host the caves. Here's another announcement of a marine nature, this time coming from George Washington Birthplace National Monument in eastern Virginia. At this park, dolphin fossils including two skulls were recently excavated from the Miocene-aged Calvert Formation bluffs along the Potomac. I'm particularly proud and pleased about this news, because I have been going to GEWA annually since 2014 to conduct monitoring of fossil resources. (I am also jealous because I wasn't available to participate!) There are two things going on here that threaten fossil resources: the Potomac can rather effectively batter the poorly lithified Calvert Formation bluffs when it gets churning; and there has been a long-time culture of collecting, which we've been trying to change.
|March 2015, on part of the Potomac shore.
|November 2019, somewhere close to the same place as the previous photo. The colors seem to be a seasonal thing (the colorful surfaces are scrubbed off during winter storms). Note the trees looming above.
|When you're at a park, remember to leave the fossils where they are. Tell park staff if you come across something interesting. Maybe another dolphin will turn up!
Park Paleontology News, spring 2020A couple of years ago we resumed the Park Paleontology newsletter as a collection of short online articles, published in the spring and fall. This venue gives us a chance to put out short pieces on our various projects, covering a variety of aspects of NPS paleontology from a range of viewpoints. The spring 2020 collection was recently made public and includes the following:
- The piece on the GEWA dolphins mentioned above
- "Fossils in Focus: Using Photogrammetry and 3D Models to Highlight Recent Paleontological Discoveries at Chaco Culture National Historical Park" by Cait Conley and Phil Varela, which ties in with Phil's inventory for the park (public version here)
- "The Second Bank of the United States: Ordovician Fossils in 19th Century Flooring" by Samantha Freise
- "Preserving Fossils: How the National Natural Landmarks Program Advances Resource Management" by Jeff Orlowski
- "A Long-Awaited New Paleontological Research Facility for Hagerman Fossil Beds National Monument" by Kari Prassack
- "An Inventory of Fossils at Carlsbad Caverns National Park" by Scott Kottkamp
- "First Paleontologist Hired at Waco Mammoth National Monument" by Lindsey Yann
- "Preventative Conservation of an Allosaurus skull from Dinosaur National Monument" by Rebecca Hunt-Foster and Matt Smith (Dinosaur NM, of course, also making noise this year for a different Allosaurus skull, the one belonging to the at-long-last formally described A. jimmadseni)
Feel free to also check out the back issues from the past few years, too!