• Massive petrified redwood stumps

    Florissant Fossil Beds

    National Monument Colorado

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Natural Features & Ecosystems

Nature and Science

View of the Florissant valley with a massive petrified redwood in the foreground

Cliff and Jean Dickey

Florissant Fossil Beds is a 6,000 acre wonderland of meadows, forests, and wildflowers. At 8,400 feet of elevation, the Monument lies within the montane life zone. Ponderosa pine, aspen, fir, and spruce are the dominant trees. Wapiti (elk), mule deer, coyotes, foxes, bears, mountain lions, are some of the large mammals that inhabit the area. Birds of prey scan the meadows for ground squirrels and mice.

Beneath the ground is one of the richest and most diverse fossil deposits in the world. Up to 1700 different species have been described. A majority of those fossils are fragile, detailed compression and impression fossils of insects and plants. The largest fossils are massive, petrified Sequoia trees. These are some of the largest diameter petrified trees in the world.

Did You Know?

illustration of rhinocerous-like mammal

Fossil remains of a brontothere, a rhinoceros-like creature, have been found in the Florissant fossil beds. Brontotheres were enormous, with some standing over eight feet tall.