Fossils and other paleontological resources are the remains of ancient plants and animals, as well as trace fossils such as burrows or tracks, that can provide scientifically significant information on the history of the life on earth. Assessments of the scientific significance of these remainsare based on whether they can provide data on the taxonomy and phylogeny of ancient organisms, the paleoecology and nature of paleo-environments in the geologic past, or the stratigraphy and age of geologic units.

Fossils need not be mineralized to be of potential significant value. Deposits resulting from geologically recent but rapid sedimentation, such as basal landslide deposits and marsh deposits, can yield the unaltered bones of extinct Pleistocene megafauna and paleobotanical remains. Similarily, fossils need not be older than 10,000 years to be scientifically significant. Understanding the post-Pleistocene development of California's ecosystem relies on such younger fossils, and remains an important goal of scientific research.

Paleotological resources in the Santa Monica Mountains include isolated fossil specimens, fossil sites, and fossil bearing rock units. The paleontological sensitivity of the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area varies across the landscape depending on local geology as well as geomorphic factors. The geology and depostional history of different history of different rock units, in turn, largely determines the potential for yielding scientifically or educationally significant fossil remains.

Last updated: January 14, 2022

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