Petrified Forest Summer of Science 2015 More new discoveries!

fossil bone pendant
Fossil Bone Pendant


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News Release Date: September 18, 2015

Contact: Sarah Herve, (928) 524-6228 ext. 245

The partial jaw of a fossil fish not known to exist in the Late Triassic era
(about 220 million years ago) in North America was found by a citizen scientist
at Petrified Forest this summer. It's a long-snouted fish closely related to
the genus Saurichthys. Other jaw parts had been found earlier in the season but
were not understood until this more complete jaw was found and identified. The
fish was known to exist globally in the Early Triassic and had been found in
Europe in the Late Triassic but not in North America. This find has the
potential to rewrite our scientific understanding of Late Triassic animal distributions
in North America.

Two more skeletons of the crocodile ancestor Revueltosaurus were uncovered this
summer by park paleontologists, one with the best preserved skull of the animal
ever found. In 2004, the first complete skeletons of this animal were found at
Petrified Forest—it had previously been identified only by a few teeth found
near Tucumcari New Mexico. This summer's finds near the previous excavation
site bring the total number of individuals found at the Petrified Forest to 16.
The Petrified Forest specimens represent the best known skeletons of this
animal to date.

Another first this summer was the discovery of fossil bones from Tanystropheus,
a very long-necked lizard known to exist in the Late Triassic, but not
previously found at Petrified Forest. This discovery adds another animal to the
Late Triassic ecological picture in this area.

The routine work of the paleontologists included visiting 145 fossil localities
in the park and collecting a total of 245 fossil specimens. They also hosted an
introductory paleontology field school conducted by Columbia College of Chicago
and the first two paleontology classes for the general public through the
Petrified Forest Field Institute.

Paleontologist and paleontology program contact—Dr. William Parker 928-524-6228
x262. Seasonal Paleontologist: Adam Marsh. Summer Interns: Ben Kligman, Emily Lessner

Archeologists continue to be impressed with the high density of archeological
sites in the different environments of Petrified Forest over 13,000 years human
beings have been in North America.

This summer marked the third year of a three year project to identify and
record archeological resources on some of the park's newly acquired lands. The
first year focused on mesa tops and dune ridges. The second year focused on
dune ridges and valley floor sites. Surveys this summer focused on areas along
the riparian corridor and broad grassy valley floors. Over the course of the
project the archaeologists have fully mapped and documented over 300 newly
discovered sites and re-recorded 28 previously known sites in the park. By the
end of this summer's field season archaeologists will have surveyed nearly 5000
acres and hiked well over 800 miles.

The most interesting findings this year, as with both of the previous years,
starts with the high density of archeological sites in the areas surveyed. Nearly
2000 acres were surveyed and 153 new sites were recorded. These sites ranged
from scatters of chipped flakes to four masonry pueblos of 10 rooms or more
from the Pueblo III period. Older sites were also found, as in the previous two
summers, with the earliest represented by a late Paleoindian spear point and
several habitation sites from the Basketmaker period, including evidence of
shell ornament production. A handful of pithouse villages were identified,
including one with Triassic fossil bone pendants, an interesting combination of
paleontology and archeology.

Another part of the recently acquired lands includes a stage station from the
1870's along the Star Stage route between Prescott and Santa Fe. A park crew
thoroughly mapped and recorded all the surface artifacts associated with the
sites. Crews also documented the historic inscriptions on the nearby rocks and
researched the names of the people in historical records to better understand
the history of use of the building and surrounding area.

The Petrified Forest crew was well represented at this year's Pecos Conference,
making one presentation and showing 9 posters of their work. There will also be
presentations made at the 2016 meeting of the Society of American Archeology.

Lead Archeologist and archeology program contact—Mr. William Reitze
928-524-6228 x268. Archeologist: Iva Lee Lemkuhl. Student Archeologist:Amy Schott. Seasonal archeologists: Robert Sinesky, Brian Harmon, Emelio Santiago, Cody Dalpra. Summer Interns: Max
Forton, Maggie Hagen, Joselyn Pettit, Alex Covert, Ashley Packard, Christy Stewart. Volunteer: Chris Reed.

Last updated: October 1, 2015

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Mailing Address:

1 Park Road, #2217
Petrified Forest, AZ 86028


(928) 524-6228

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