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THE PALEONTOLOGY SYNTHESIS PROJECT AND ESTABLISHING A FRAMEWORK FOR MANAGING NATIONAL PARK SERVICE PALEONTOLOGICAL RESOURCE ARCHIVES AND DATA

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The National Park Service Paleontology Program maintains an extensive collection of digital and hard copy documents, publications, photographs and other archives associated with the paleontological resources documented in 268 parks. The organization and preservation of the NPS paleontology archives has been the focus of intensive data management activities by a small and dedicated team of NPS staff. The data preservation strategy complemented the NPS servicewide inventories for paleontological resources. The first phase of the data management, referred to as the NPS Paleontology Synthesis Project, compiled servicewide paleontological resource data pertaining to geologic time, taxonomy, museum repositories, holotype fossil specimens, and numerous other topics. In 2015, the second phase of data management was implemented with the creation and organization of a multi-faceted digital data system known as the NPS Paleontology Archives and NPS Paleontology Library. Two components of the NPS Paleontology Archives were designed for the preservation of both park specific and servicewide paleontological resource archives and data. A third component, the NPS Paleontology Library, is a repository for electronic copies of geology and paleontology publications, reports, and other media. The NPS Paleontology Archives and Library has been an important investment supporting data discovery, current and future resource management, protection, scientific research, curation, education and other activities involving NPS paleontological resources.
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Lucas, S.G. and Sullivan, R.M., eds., 2018, Fossil Record 6. New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science Bulletin 79.
THE PALEONTOLOGY SYNTHESIS PROJECT AND ESTABLISHING
A FRAMEWORK FOR MANAGING NATIONAL PARK SERVICE
PALEONTOLOGICAL RESOURCE ARCHIVES AND DATA
VINCENT L. SANTUCCI1, JUSTIN S. TWEET2 and TIMOTHY B. CONNORS3
1National Park Service, Geologic Resources Division, 1849 “C” Street, NW, Washington, D.C. 20240, vincent_santucci@nps.gov;
2National Park Service, 9149 79th Street S., Cottage Grove, MN 55016, justin_tweet@nps.gov;
3National Park Service, Geologic Resources Division, 12795 W. Alameda Parkway, Lakewood, CO 80225, tim_connors@nps.gov
Abstract—The National Park Service Paleontology Program maintains an extensive collection of
digital and hard copy documents, publications, photographs and other archives associated with the
paleontological resources documented in 268 parks. The organization and preservation of the NPS
paleontology archives has been the focus of intensive data management activities by a small and
dedicated team of NPS staff. The data preservation strategy complemented the NPS servicewide
inventories for paleontological resources. The rst phase of the data management, referred to as the
NPS Paleontology Synthesis Project, compiled servicewide paleontological resource data pertaining to
geologic time, taxonomy, museum repositories, holotype fossil specimens, and numerous other topics.
In 2015, the second phase of data management was implemented with the creation and organization of
a multi-faceted digital data system known as the NPS Paleontology Archives and NPS Paleontology
Library. Two components of the NPS Paleontology Archives were designed for the preservation of both
park specic and servicewide paleontological resource archives and data. A third component, the NPS
Paleontology Library, is a repository for electronic copies of geology and paleontology publications,
reports, and other media. The NPS Paleontology Archives and Library has been an important investment
supporting data discovery, current and future resource management, protection, scientic research,
curation, education and other activities involving NPS paleontological resources.
INTRODUCTION
The National Park Service (NPS) Paleontology Program
provides servicewide support for a wide variety of paleontological
resource issues and technical assistance. The management of
non-renewable paleontological resources and their associated
data from NPS lands is required by federal law, regulations,
policy, and guidance documents. The Paleontological Resources
Preservation Act of 2009 mandates the management of fossils
using scientic principles and expertise. Servicewide inventories
for paleontological resources from NPS administered lands
have yielded extensive information and data conrming the
occurrence of fossils in at least 268 park units, including 17
parks with enabling legislation which references paleontological
resources (Appendix A). Despite the fact that 64% of all
NPS areas preserve fossils, fewer than 10 parks employ staff
paleontologists to support management issues involving that
park’s fossils. Two servicewide paleontologists within the NPS
Geologic Resources Division support paleontological resource
issues, needs, and data management for the remaining nearly
260 parks with fossils.
Using 1985 as a baseline year, the amount of information
pertaining to the scope, signicance, distribution, and management
issues associated with NPS paleontological resources has grown
steadily (Fig. 1). The year 1985 was selected based on when
the senior author began compiling servicewide paleontological
resources information, with the general understanding at the
time that there was a total of 12 NPS areas with paleontological
resources. Paleontological resource inventories and data mining
have contributed signicantly to the growth in number of
NPS areas identied with fossils. Between 2002 and 2012, the
NPS funded baseline paleontological resource inventories for
parks included in the 32 Inventory and Monitoring networks,
in the process generating large datasets for NPS paleontology
(Santucci et al., 2009; Santucci et al., 2012). Figure 2 is a pie
chart which shows the relative abundance of NPS areas with
documented fossils grouped by NPS region (Figure 3).
The justication, needs for, and benets derived from
undertaking paleontological resource inventories in the NPS
are substantial and not merely bureaucratic “bean counting.”
In addition to the fact that paleontological resource inventory
and monitoring are mandated by the Paleontological Resources
Preservation Act (2009), resource inventories are recognized
as important resource management strategies and practices
initially adopted for all NPS natural resources under the Natural
Resource Challenge during the 1990s. Resource inventories
increase the awareness and understanding pertaining to the
scope, signicance, distribution, and management issues
relative to park fossils and other resources. This increased
understanding helps to inform park managers involved with
planning and decision-making at the park, region, network,
or Washington ofce levels. This is particularly important for
NPS paleontological resources which sometimes experience
negligent management due to the predominant focus and
emphasis on modern biological and ecological resources by park
managers with little to no education, training, or experience with
the management of non-renewable fossils. This may be further
exacerbated by factors such as insufcient stafng and funding,
high rates of staff turnover, and the multitude of time-sensitive
demands and responsibilities facing park resource managers.
Park-specic fossil inventories undertaken since 1998 have
resulted in signicant fossil discoveries with new information
for dozens of NPS areas including, but not limited to: Aniakchak
National Monument and Preserve (ANIA), Arches National Park
(ARCH), Capitol Reef National Park (CARE), Denali National
Park and Preserve (DENA), Death Valley National Park (DEVA),
Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve (GLBA), Glen Canyon
National Recreation Area (GLCA), Grand Canyon National
Park (GRCA), Mesa Verde National Park (MEVE), Point Reyes
National Seashore (PORE), Salinas Pueblo Missions National
Monument (SAPU), White Sands National Monument (WHSA)
and Wupatki National Monument (WUPA).
Thematic servicewide paleontological resource inventories
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FIGURE 1. Graph showing the growth in the number of NPS
areas conrmed with paleontological resources between 1985
and 2018.
FIGURE 2. Pie chart showing the relative percentages of NPS
areas with conrmed paleontological resources grouped by NPS
region.
FIGURE 3. Map showing the seven regions of the U.S. National
Park Service.
have also been undertaken which assess the occurrence of
specic types of paleontological resources throughout the NPS.
Examples of thematic paleontological resource inventories
include the inventory for fossils from NPS caves (Santucci et
al., 2001) and an inventory of fossil sh from NPS areas (Hunt
et al., 2006). Future paleontological resource inventories in the
NPS will continue to expand the information associated with
park fossils and their management, further increasing the need
for a well-organized structure for data management for the NPS
Paleontology Program.
NPS PALEONTOLOGICAL RESOURCE DATA
MANAGEMENT
A myriad of archives and records associated with the
history and science of NPS paleontology extends back more
than a century. The conservation and preservation missions for
the NPS apply not only to the fossils found in parks, but also
apply to the critically important scientic information and data
associated with these resources. It is through the associated
data that paleontologists are able to breathe life into dusty
old bones, shells, wood and footprints in order to understand
the diversity of ancient life and how the organisms interacted
over geologic time. Field notes, sketches, photographs, maps,
reports, publications and fossil specimens are the components
of the NPS paleontological legacy and are deserving of care and
preservation.
Life in the “Information Age” has presented tremendous
new technological advances which have changed the way we
do business, how individuals communicate, and has fueled
signicant cultural evolution. As with other elds of study,
paleontology is rapidly transitioning from paper to digital
records. Many questions, challenges and opportunities have
emerged in data preservation that have been contemplated and
implemented for NPS paleontology and associated archives.
The many sources of NPS fossil information must be considered
in order that “one of a kind” reports or photos are not lost or
forgotten. Collectively, hundreds of thousands of paleontology
records exist for the NPS, sometime lying dormant in parks le,
museum collections and other locations yet to be discovered.
A paleontological resource data management strategy was
conceptualized in 2012 in order to integrate the extensive hard
copy NPS Paleontology Archives with the growing digital records
for NPS paleontology. The NPS Paleontology Synthesis Project
(PSP) was initiated as a transitional step in data preservation for
NPS paleontology records and archives. A series of spreadsheets
piloted around 2000 were updated and systematically expanded
to integrate NPS paleontology data pertaining to geologic time,
taxonomy, holotype specimens, museum repositories, historic
and cultural context, and other categories of information.
Several years of data mining in support of the PSP project led to
the need to establish a permanent digital archive for organization
and preservation of a broad spectrum of NPS paleontological
resource information. The NPS Paleontology Archives was
created in 2015 with two distinct components: one for “park-
specic” paleontological resource information; and one for
“servicewide” NPS paleontological resource information.
A third component of the NPS Paleontology Archives
involves the organization of electronic scans of publications,
articles, reports, and other media from a variety of sources into
what is referred to as the NPS Paleontology Library. The scope
of this library is fairly broad and inclusive of many geology and
paleontology focused publications, with a focus on compiling
all known publications associated with NPS paleontology. Many
hard copy publications, reports and other archives have been
scanned to incorporate into this library. This includes rare gray
literature and internal NPS reports which may not be publicly
accessible. The library is organized alphabetically by the last
name of the rst author with separate folders for each letter of
the alphabet. Currently there are approximately 7,000 electronic
les (PDF’s, etc.) within the NPS Paleontology Library.
A “Finding Aid” has been developed for the NPS
Paleontology Archives (both park-specic archives and
servicewide archives) to facilitate their use in locating particular
types of records and archives. This “Finding Aid” continues
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to expand and incorporate information to allow users of the
archives to understand the organizational structure of this digital
archive and where to locate specic categories of records.
The NPS Paleontology Archives and Library are stored on a
dedicated server which continuously backs up the information to
ensure preservation of the archives and library. The records are
restricted access due to the sensitive paleontological resource
locality information available within some of the records. NPS
staff or researchers are able to contact the NPS Paleontology
Program in order to obtain copies of any records of interest.
GEOLOGIC TIME
The fossil record preserved within the 268 NPS parks
collectively span the geologic time scale from the Proterozoic
through the Holocene. The NPS Paleontology Archives include
a database which contains information on all of the geologic
time intervals represented as surface exposures for each park,
as well as, enabling the ability to search for all parks which
preserve fossils for a particular geologic time interval. This
servicewide park data is particularly useful for public education
and interpretation and scientic research. Figure 4 shows the
distribution of park records for fossils from a particular geologic
time interval.
The Precambrian is the geologic time interval which has
the fewest number of parks (8 parks) represented by fossils.
Conversely, the Pleistocene is the geologic time interval which
has the largest number of parks (121 parks) with documented
fossils. Table 1 provides a breakdown of the number and
identities of each park which preserves fossils from each geologic
time interval. The NPS Paleontological Archives maintains the
geologic time information in a database that subdivides each
time interval into early, middle and late.
Table 2 shows the NPS areas containing the most geologic
time intervals exposed that have documented paleontological
resources. DENA has the greatest number of fossiliferous
geologic time intervals with 15, with DEVA and YUCH close
behind with 14 geologic time intervals.
TAXONOMY
Collectively the NPS PSP has documented an extensive
diversity of fossil taxa from the 268 parks which are determined to
preserve paleontological resources. The taxonomic information
for NPS fossils is maintained within the NPS Paleontology
Archives under ve broad taxonomic categories: Plant Fossils
(Paleobotany), Invertebrate Fossils (Invertebrate Paleontology),
Vertebrate Fossils (Vertebrate Paleontology), Trace Fossils
(Vertebrate and Invertebrate Ichnology) and Other Fossils.
Within each taxonomic category are subcategories which
are based upon widely accepted taxonomic classication for
fossil and extant biota which are in accordance with the codes
established by the International Commission on Zoological
Nomenclature (ICZN, 1999) and the International Association
for Plant Taxonomy (IAPT) (Turland et al., 2018). Within the
various subdisciplines of paleontology, specialists working on
specic taxonomic groups may have differing interpretations
on taxonomic identities and afnities which present some
challenges in determining placement of some fossil taxa within
our NPS Paleontology Archives taxonomic organization. An
additional challenge involves remaining current with revisions
of taxonomic nomenclature in instances where name-bearing
taxa undergo formal renaming of genera and/or species. As
these changes in taxonomic nomenclature are encountered the
information is amended in the NPS Paleontology Archives.
Although name-bearing fossil taxa are closely tied to this
discussion of fossil taxonomy, we have included a dedicated
section in this paper and within our organization of the NPS
Paleontology Archives to specically address NPS holotype
fossils. This discussion of taxonomy considers all fossil taxa
from NPS areas, regardless of their status as holotypes.
In some instances, the taxonomic identity of a fossil
specimen may not be feasible due to the lack of diagnostic
morphological characteristics. Weathering, erosion, transport,
metamorphism, mineralization, and other factors may contribute
to diminished preservation of fossil specimens. There are also
instances where taxonomic identication requires more rigorous
study or preparation of a specimen than may be feasible.
One common example is isolated pieces of petried wood.
Macroscopic examination of a specimen of petried wood
typically does not enable identication at the genus or species
level, which may be possible through microscopic examination
of cell morphology and structure. Therefore, a “catch-all”
subcategory for “unclassied petried wood”, documented in 77
NPS units, has been included in the NPS Paleontology Archives.
Plant Fossils (Paleobotany): The Plant Fossil
(Paleobotany) category includes taxa within the Kingdom
Plantae, primarily multicellular and photosynthetic eukaryotes.
Among the fossils are green algae, terrestrial plant macrofossils
such as leaves, wood, stems, and macroscopic seeds, as well
as plant palynomorphs which include pollen and spores. Many
forms of traditional “algae” often associated with plants are
excluded from Fossil Plants and instead are discussed in the
“Other Fossils” category. According to the NPS Paleontology
Archives, fossil plants are documented in 152 units of the NPS
and are divided into 19 subcategories (Table 3).
A more comprehensive inventory of plant fossils from NPS
areas needs to be undertaken in the future in collaboration with
professional paleobotanists and palynologists. Paleobotanical
research has been undertaken by a number of past and current
paleobotanists, including: Sid Ash, Erling Dorf, Frank H.
Knowlton, Leo Lesquereux, Steve Manchester, Herb Meyer,
William Tidwell, Lester Ward, Elizabeth Wheeler, David White,
Scott Wing, and Jack Wolfe. Santucci et al. (2014a) present an
example of a NPS region-wide inventory for fossil plants from
national parks within the National Capital Region in the District
of Columbia, Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia.
Invertebrate Fossils (Invertebrate Paleontology):
The Invertebrate Fossil (Invertebrate Paleontology) category
includes invertebrate taxa within the Kingdom Animalia.
Invertebrates are animals which do not possess a vertebral
column and represent the majority of known animal species.
The protists and other prokaryotic heterotrophic mobile forms
outside of Animalia are discussed and organized in the “Other
Fossils” category. Fossil invertebrates are documented from 165
NPS areas and are organized into 34 subcategories in the NPS
Paleontology Archives (Table 3).
Research and eld collection of invertebrate fossils from
FIGURE 4. Graph showing the distribution and total number of
NPS areas that have documented fossils for each geologic time
interval.
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TABLE 1. The number and identication of parks, presented as four-letter acronyms, which have documented fossils from specic
geologic time intervals. See Appendix A for the names of parks associated with each park acronym used in the table.
areas currently administered by the NPS has been undertaken
by scientists including Warren Addicott, Robert Blodgett, Frank
M. Carpenter, Bill Cobban, T.D.A. Cockerell, Timothy Abbott
Conrad, Arthur Cooper, Thomas Dutro, George Girty, James
Hall, Ralph Imlay, Edwin McKee, Charles Merriam, Allison
Palmer, John Reeside, Reuben Ross, Charles Schuchert, Samuel
Scudder, Benjamin F. Shumard, Norm Silberling, Edward O.
Ulrich, Charles Walcott, Henry Wickham, and Ellis Yochelson.
Norr et al. (2016) represents the rst taxonomic inventory for
the NPS focused on a group of fossil invertebrates, reporting
on the occurrence of trilobites (Class Trilobita) preserved in
33 NPS areas. More than 120 species of trilobites are based on
fossils collected and described from NPS-administered lands.
Vertebrate Fossils: The Vertebrate Fossil (Vertebrate
Paleontology) category includes vertebrate taxa within the
Kingdom Animalia. Vertebrates are animals which possess
a vertebral column, including jawless sh (agnathans),
cartilaginous sh (chondrichthyans), bony sh (osteichthyans),
amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals. Conodonts are of
questionable afnity to vertebrates and are therefore included
within invertebrate fossils within the NPS Paleontology
Archives for taxonomy. Fossil vertebrates are documented from
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121 NPS areas and are organized into 27 subcategories in the
NPS Paleontology Archives (Table 3).
Notable vertebrate paleontologists who have undertaken
research and eld collecting in NPS areas include Larry
Agenbroad, Rachel Benton, Charles Camp, Dan Chure, John
Clark, Edward Drinker Cope, Earl Douglass, Nick Famoso,
Tony Fiorillo, Ted Fremd, Dave Gillette, Charles Gilmore,
Jim Kirkland, Wann Langston, Tom Lehman, Joseph Leidy,
Spencer Lucas, O.C. Marsh, Greg McDonald, Jim Mead, John
C. Merriam, Bill Parker, Olof Peterson, Charles Repenning, Eric
Scott, Morris Skinner, Kathleen Springer, and Chester Stock.
Several NPS-wide thematic paleontological resource
inventories involving vertebrate fossils have been completed over
the past two decades. The research and data mining associated
with these inventories has greatly expanded our understanding
of the diversity and distribution of fossil vertebrates within the
NPS. Hunt et al. (2006) inventoried the occurrences of fossil
sh from NPS areas yielding information on 42 parks with sh
fossils. Since this inventory was completed in 2006, at least a
dozen additional parks have been identied with the remains
of fossil sh. Servicewide vertebrate paleontological resource
inventories were undertaken for Mesozoic mammals and non-
mammalian therapsids (Tweet and Santucci, 2015) and for non-
avian dinosaurs (Tweet and Santucci, 2018).
Trace Fossils (Ichnology): The Trace Fossils (Ichnology)
category includes biogenic features and structures preserved in
sediments through activities (bioturbation) of past organisms.
Trace fossils record the activities and behaviors of ancient
invertebrates, vertebrates and plants resulting in a wide
variety of traces that can be preserved in a geologic context.
Fossil footprints, tracks, trails, burrows, nests, middens, eggs/
egg shells, coprolites/dung, root casts, rhizoliths and biogenic
sedimentary structures such as stromatolites are examples of
trace fossils. Collectively trace fossils are also referred to as
ichnofossils, with distinct ichnotaxa which include ichnogenera
and ichnospecies. Trace fossils are documented from 127
NPS areas and are organized into 17 subcategories in the NPS
Paleontology Archives (Table 3).
Scientists Erwin Barbour, Matthew Bennett, David Bustos,
Don Curry, Charles Gilmore, Steve Hasiotis, Adrian Hunt,
Martin Lockley, Andrew Milner, Torrey Nyborg, and Jack
Wood are among those who have studied NPS ichnofossils.
Inventories for fossil vertebrate tracks preserved in NPS areas
have identied at least 32 parks (Santucci et al. 1998; Santucci
et al. 2006). During 2012, inventories for coprolites (Hunt et
al., 2012) and packrat middens (Tweet et al., 2012) from NPS
administered lands were completed.
“Other Fossils”: The Other Fossils category includes a
diverse spectrum of fossil biota, many of which are microfossils.
Ediacaran biota, foraminifera, radiolarians, acritarchs,
coccoliths, diatoms, dinoagellates, and fungi are among the 15
subcategories of Other Fossils documented in 104 NPS areas.
This total number of parks likely represents an undercounting
because of the microscopic nature of these types of fossils,
which make them difcult to observe, collect, identify, and
study without proper techniques and equipment. No specic
inventories have been undertaken for any subcategory within
the Other Fossils category.
NPS FOSSIL HOLOTYPES
The establishment of name-bearing type specimens of fossil
taxa is a fundamental practice in the science of paleontology.
The classication of fossil ora and fauna is derived from the
principles and practices of Linnaean taxonomy rst proposed
by Carl Linnaeus in his publication Systema Naturae (Linnaeus,
1735). Modern biological and paleontological taxonomic
classication and taxonomic nomenclature are dened by
the codes established by the International Commission on
Zoological Nomenclature (ICZN, 1999) and the International
Association for Plant Taxonomy (IAPT) (Turland et al., 2018).
The dening, description and naming of fossil genera and
species enables the ability to recognize the diversity of life
preserved in the fossil record, the relationship between fossil
taxa, evolutionary changes in taxa over time, paleobiogeographic
distributions of taxa, and other important scientic information
pertaining to fossils. The name-bearing type fossil specimens
serve as the “blueprint” for the design and structure of the
fossil record of life on Earth. Therefore, the value of the fossil
specimens selected to dene a paleontological genus or species
warrants careful protection and curation of holotype fossil
specimens.
Identication of holotype fossil specimens collected from
lands administered by the NPS has been one of the objectives of
the NPS PSP. Tweet et al. (2016) presented the rst servicewide
compilation of name-bearing holotype fossil specimens
collected from NPS administered lands. Based on over two
decades of research, at least 2,293 holotype fossils have been
conrmed as originating from 71 NPS areas and one abolished
national monument. This total reects holotype fossil specimens
collected either before or after the establishment of a given
park since the locality from which the specimen was derived is
now managed by the NPS. The preservation of paleontological
resource locality data, regardless of whether a fossil was
collected prior to NPS administration, is a critical component
of the NPS strategy for the management of non-renewable
paleontological resources in parks.
In addition to the 2,293 holotype fossil specimens conrmed
from NPS areas, another 2,556 holotype fossil specimens
potentially were collected on NPS lands, but remain unconrmed
(Table 4). As discussed in Tweet et al. (2016), non-conrmation is
usually the result of ambiguous or missing locality information,
an issue which is particularly problematic from the beginning of
paleontological studies in the United States through the 1920s.
Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument is the NPS area with
the largest number of holotype fossil specimens with 430 types
conrmed and another 1,315 potential holotypes which are not
yet conrmed from the monument. The other NPS areas with
high numbers of conrmed holotype fossil specimens include
TABLE 2. NPS areas containing the most exposed geologic time
intervals that preserve paleontological resources.
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TABLE 3. Categories of fossil plants, invertebrates, vertebrates and trace fossils used within the organization of the NPS Paleontology
Archives. Some categories that are used in the archives have been lumped together for ease of reading. Some taxonomic groups
are broken down in more detail than others, due in part to relative abundances of diagnostic fossils across parks. Categories and
subcategories are subject to change in response to fossil discoveries and taxonomic reassessment.
Guadalupe Mountains National Park (219 holotypes), John Day
Fossil Beds National Monument (198 holotypes), Yellowstone
National Park (175 holotypes), and Grand Canyon National
Park (162 holotypes).
MUSEUM REPOSITORIES
The eld collection of paleontological specimens is critical
to the science of paleontology. The preservation and curation
of fossil specimens collected from units of the NPS and other
federal lands is based on federal laws, policies, guidance
documents and professional museum standards. The care of
paleontological specimens in museum collections and the
accountability of the repositories, including those maintained
within NPS areas, are recognized as essential responsibilities to
ensure the preservation of the scientic and educational values
of fossils.
As of July 2018, the total number of cataloged specimens in
the servicewide NPS paleontology collections is 640,845. These
fossil collections are curated and maintained in individual park
museums, regional NPS curatorial centers, and in at least 185
museum repositories outside of the NPS. At least 19 museum
repositories with NPS fossil collections are located in foreign
countries. Badlands National Park (BADL) holds the distinction
of having fossil collections in the highest number of outside
repositories, totaling 27 museums, compared to all other NPS
areas (Table 5).
The regional NPS curatorial centers provide facilities for
a large number of parks, within a dened geographic area, to
maintain collections of park objects and specimens. The Western
Archeological and Conservation Center (WACC) is located
in Tucson, Arizona, and maintains fossil collections from
34 NPS areas mostly from the Intermountain Region (IMR)
parks. The Midwest Archeological Center (MWAC) is located
in Omaha, Nebraska, and maintains fossil collections from at
least 21 NPS areas primarily in the Midwest Region (MWR)
parks. The Southeast Archeological Center (SEAC) is located
595
in Tallahassee, Florida, and maintains fossil collections from at
least 16 NPS areas located within the Southeast Region (SER)
parks. Finally, the Museum Resource Center (MRCE) is located
in Landover, Maryland, and maintains fossil collections from at
least 10 NPS areas located within the National Capital Region
(NCR) parks.
The Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
(USNM) is the museum institution which curates and maintains
paleontological collections from more NPS areas than any other
museum (Table 6). USNM has fossil specimens from at least 72
conrmed NPS areas, with another possible 7 parks which are
not yet conrmed. There are also fossil collections at the USNM
from the abolished Fossil Cycad National Monument, South
Dakota, which are not counted as part of the 72 conrmed NPS
areas. The USNM and the University of California, Museum of
Paleontology each maintains a large collection of fossils obtained
by U.S. Geological Survey geologists and paleontologists.
The NPS has undertaken some limited inventory of these U.S.
Geological Survey fossil collections and have identied many
fossil localities in parks which are currently not known by NPS
staff (Santucci et al., 2014b).
HISTORICAL AND CULTURAL RESOURCE CONTEXT
The history of NPS paleontology extends well before the
creation of the NPS in 1916, and even the establishment of
Yellowstone National Park in 1872. Santucci (2017) presented
a detailed overview of the history of paleontology associated
with the NPS which includes the discovery of fossil localities
in areas before they were national parks. There is an important
historical story regarding an abolished NPS unit (Fossil Cycad
National Monument, South Dakota) and how the loss of all of
the fossils at the surface led to the site being deauthorized as a
unit of the NPS in 1957 (Santucci and Ghist, 2014).
The occurrence of fossils within a cultural resource context
presents some interesting human dimensions of paleontological
resources (Kenworthy and Santucci, 2006; Santucci et al., 2016).
A variety of fossils have been documented from archeological
sites and in conjuction with archeological excavations. Projectile
points made from petried wood, crinoids and other fossils used
in the manufacturing of jewelry by ancient people, and efgies
carved into fossils are examples of fossils in an archeological
resource context.
Fossils are also occasionally found within the building
stones of historic structures (Kenworthy and Santucci, 2006).
Many of the monuments and memorials in the nation’s capital,
including the Lincoln Memorial and Washington Monument,
contain fossils, especially those in which the fossiliferous
Indiana Limestone is used in the building stone. The stone bridge
over Plum Run along South Confederate Avenue at Gettysburg
National Military Park contains several Triassic vertebrate
footprints (Santucci and Hunt, 1995). The foundations of the
Theodore Roosevelt Lodge at Yellowstone National Park and
the Painted Desert Inn at Petried Forest National Park are
constructed of local petried wood.
Fossils in a cultural resource context have been included
in our NPS paleontological resource inventories and within the
NPS Paleontology Archives since these fossils require some
management action and preservation.
ADDITIONAL ARCHIVES AND DATA MANAGEMENT
The NPS Paleontological Resource Archives include several
other categories of information and data which either have begun
to be compiled or are planned for the future. These categories
may be important sources of information for individual parks
and/or collectively in agency wide evaluations. Below are a few
paleontological resource categories which will be the focus of
development and data mining in the future:
Stratigraphy—The compilation of paleontological
resource data pertaining to fossiliferous stratigraphic units
exposed in NPS areas has already been demonstrated in two
multi-park research projects including “The Morrison Formation
Extinct Ecosystem Project” (Turner et al., 1996; Engelmann and
Callison, 1998) and “The Chinle Formation Extinct Ecosystem
Project” (Martz et al., 2017). Both the Morrison (Jurassic) and
Chinle (Triassic) formations research were multidisciplinary
studies which involved the evaluation of the geology and
paleontology of the respective fossiliferous formations across
TABLE 4. Total number of conrmed and possible holotype
fossil specimens from NPS administered lands (Tweet, et al.
2016).
TABLE 5. National Park Service areas with the highest number of outside repositories which maintain paleontological collections
from that park. IMR = Intermountain Region; MWR = Midwest Region; CHDN = Chihuahuan Desert Network; NCPN = Northern
Colorado Plateau Network; NGPN = Northern Great Plains Network; ROMN = Rocky Mountain Network; SCPN = Southern
Colorado Plateau Network.
596
numerous NPS areas in which those formations were exposed.
Evaluating the paleontology for an individual geologic formation
over a wide geographic area may enhance the opportunities for
scientic interpretations and public education as it pertains to
that geologic time interval.
Paleontological Research—Another category of
paleontological resource information for the NPS is associated
with scientic research conducted in parks. Sources of existing
paleontological research information are able to be searched
through the NPS Research Permit and Reporting System (RPRS).
The RPRS website (https://irma.nps.gov/rprs/Home) provides
access to the NPS research permit database which extends back
to 1991. RPRS enables searches for NPS research permits based
on keywords, park name, investigator name, and year.
A second source of research information within the NPS
RPRS database includes access to Investigator Annual Reports
(IAR) (https://irma.nps.gov/rprs/Iar/Search). IARs are summary
abstracts of work undertaken in the NPS through a research
and collecting permit. These annual summaries of research and
accomplishments are required from all investigators issued a
NPS research permit, although there is not 100% compliance
to completing IARs by researchers. Both the RPRS permit
database and the Investigator Annual Reports database provide
information on paleontological research which may not be
available through other sources, since some research projects
are not always accompanied by formal scientic publications.
E&R Reports—An important unpublished source of NPS
paleontological resource information are the “Examination and
Report on Referred Fossils” or E&R reports created by USGS
geologists and paleontologists since the late 1800s. Originally,
E&R reports were informal documents produced by geologists
and mappers working in the eld and identifying fossil
localities. Some were intended as a means for communication
with specialists to help determine relative age of undescribed
geologic units in the eld or for correlation of fossiliferous strata.
The E&R system was eventually formalized as a two-part
process including a form sent by the transmitting geologist in the
eld and a reply by a USGS geologist or paleontologist who was
familiar with the fossils of a particular time period, stratigraphic
unit or taxonomic group. In some instances the fossil
identications were incorporated into publications, but in many
cases this information was never published. E&R reports include
the documentation of many paleontological localities within
current NPS areas. This information is often unknown to NPS
staff. In many instances the E&R reports were generated prior to
the establishment of the NPS unit. Regardless of when the report
was generated, the information is relevant to the management of
paleontological resources that are managed today within NPS
areas. Beginning in 2014 the NPS was extended access to the
primary E&R archives at the USGS Center in Reston, Virginia.
The systematic review of E&R reports which potentially contain
paleontological locality data associated with current NPS areas
has resulted in the recognition of hundreds of fossil localities
which were not previously known to the NPS (Santucci et al.,
2014b). E&R reports which provide paleontological resource
locality within or just adjacent to NPS areas are maintained in
the NPS Paleontology Archives and are organized by both the
NPS unit and the investigator associated with the report.
Theft and Vandalism—The NPS-wide compilation of
data involving incidents of paleontological resource theft and
vandalism dates back to 1988 with the implementation of the
NPS servicewide Natural Resource Crimes Assessment and
Action Program. The NPS Ranger Activities Division (RAD)
in Washington, D.C. was preparing a budget request from the
TABLE 6. List of museum repositories that maintain paleontological collections from the highest number of National Park Service
areas.
597
NPS seeking funds from Congress to support the assessment
and evaluation of resource crimes in parks. A team of resource
specialists with backgrounds in specic types of natural
resources (wildlife, vegetation, fossils) were assembled to
gather baseline information related to natural resource crimes
in the NPS. The loss of paleontological resources due to human
activities, including unauthorized fossil collecting in parks, was
viewed to be a critical resource protection issue for the NPS. The
senior author of this publication was selected to coordinate the
assessment of NPS paleontological resource crimes including
the theft and vandalism of non-renewable fossils.
The initial resource crimes assessment was completed in
1992 and reported that between 1989 and 1991, a minimum of
1,638 fossil specimens were illegally collected in NPS areas.
During this period, 154 citations were issued collectively
totaling $5,920 in nes. Additionally, ve arrests were reported
during this period associated with paleontological resource
crimes in parks. One of the conclusions resulting from the
1989–1991 paleontological resource crimes study was that there
was a general under-reporting of fossil-related incidents and
paleontological resource protection training was recommended
by RAD.
A similar servicewide paleontological resource crimes
assessment was conducted between 1997 and 1999. A total of 721
fossil crime incidents were reported, resulting in 421 citations
being issued and six arrests. The total nes for paleontological
resource crimes during this period totaled $119,925. Although
it is not possible to accurately report the reason for the increase
in citations between the rst study (1989–1991) and the second
study (1997–1999), it is assumed that the increased training and
awareness for over 700 NPS rangers may have contributed to the
increase in fossil crime citations being issued.
Beginning in 2000, the NPS has formally included annual
reporting for paleontological resource crimes, and these data
are maintained in the NPS Paleontological Resource Archives.
Observation of the paleontological resource crime data for
approximately 18 years (2000-2018) suggests that there is still
an under-reporting of fossil-related incidents.
Planning documents—The NPS has historically generated
a variety of planning documents to support park and resource
management activities. These include General Management
Plans (GMPs), Resource Management Plans (RMPs), Resource
Stewardship Strategies (RSSs) and more recent planning
documents referred to as Foundation Documents. Planning
documents are important tools, sometimes required by law, to
support planning in parks which allow public input. GMPs have
been the standard for comprehensive park planning dening
the direction of park management for a span of 10 to 20 years.
However the considerable time and expense for developing
GMPs has limited the ability to produce these documents for
all the parks that need this planning. Within the past decade the
NPS has adopted a new and more efcient planning strategy with
the development of park Foundation Documents. Foundation
Documents are viewed as mini-GMPs for parks, which require
much less time and funding to produce.
Similarly, the NPS has discontinued producing the
traditional park Resource Management Plans (RMPs) and have
developed a new planning strategy for resource managers called
the Resource Stewardship Strategy (RSS). RSSs are planning
documents which provide guidance to park managers integrating
resource management, research, and resource education as the
core components. A central focus of the RSS is to dene the
desired condition of park resources and to implement strategies
in order to assess, monitor and maintain desired resource
conditions.
Paleontological resources are included, where appropriate,
in park Foundation Documents and Resource Stewardship
Strategies. Park Foundation Documents identify and make
recommendations for where baseline data and planning are
needed for particular resources, including fossils. As of the date
of this publication, 340 NPS areas have recently completed
Foundation Documents. A search of the NPS Foundation
Document database, containing data for the 340 parks with
completed Foundation Documents, revealed at least 86 park
requests for paleontological resource data needs and at least 19
park requests for paleontological resource planning needs. As
the remaining 77 park Foundation Documents are completed,
the number of paleontological resource data and planning needs
will likely increase.
Photoarchives and Photogrammetry—The NPS
Paleontology Archives also maintains photographs and
photogrammetric images associated with NPS paleontological
resources. Tens of thousands of NPS geology and paleontology-
themed photos are maintained in the archives, mostly distributed
within individual park folders designated for photos. Recent
work by the NPS Paleontology Program has led to the acquisition
of photogrammetric images of fossil specimens from several
dozen NPS areas (Wood and Santucci, 2014). These images
were obtained of specimens in situ at parks and of specimens
curated within museum collections. Photogrammetry creates
an electronic model of specimens which supports scientic
research, resource management, monitoring, and interpretation
and education by parks and cooperating partners.
CONCLUSION
Each year the paleontological resource information
associated with the NPS continues to expand through new
scientic research, resource management, inventory and
monitoring, curatorial activities, educational outreach and other
factors. As with other NPS resources, the NPS Paleontology
Program strives to preserve park fossils and their associated
information for the benet of future generations, especially
Junior Paleontologists of all ages.
The holistic approach to paleontological resource data
management for the NPS is much more than “bean-counting”
by federal bureaucrats. Our role as federal land and resource
managers is to consider all values and management needs
association with these non-renewable resources. Although
research is extremely important, it does not represent the full
spectrum of responsibilities we are required to address as
stewards of the NPS fossil record. Maintaining this body of
historic, scientic and other information will prove to be useful
to those who will inherit the care of NPS fossils in the future.
We also must recognize that we need to communicate our
goals, objectives and information to individuals who may not
be paleontologists, geologists or even scientists. We must also
continue to consider and be prepared to adapt to the evolving
technologies that will likely become available in the future. The
labor-intensive efforts we put forth now to preserve the broadest
range and most comprehensive information and data tied to NPS
paleontological resources will empower our future paleontology
stewards.
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
Over the course of compiling NPS paleontological resource
information, photos and other information since 1985, there
have been a large number of individuals who have contributed
to this long term effort. Scores of museum curators and
collection managers, both in parks and outside repositories,
have consistently been tremendous sources of information
related to NPS paleontological resources and collections. Kathy
Hollis (USNM), K.C. McKinney (USGS), Erica Clites (UCMP),
Colleen Hyde and Kim Besom (GRCA), Erin Eichenberg
(LAKE and TUSK), and Mike Antonioni (NACE) are just a few
museum curators among many who have helped to expand our
NPS paleontology archives.
598
We are greatly indebted to the generous support from
USGS Nancy Stamm and David Soller to discover the wealth
of NPS paleontology information contained in the USGS E&R
reports which represent an important component of the NPS
Paleontology Archives. We want to extend our appreciation
to retired NPS Historian Harry Butowsky for championing
NPS geology and paleontology through his NPS History
website. Additional thanks to Erin Eichenberg (TUSK) and J.P.
Hodnett for providing valuable feedback through review of this
manuscript.
In recent years the development of the NPS Paleontology
Archives and Library has been supported by the leadership
within the NPS Geologic Resources Division (GRD) including
Hal Pranger, Dave Steensen and Lisa Norby. Additionally, we
want to acknowledge Jim Wood, Jack Wood and the late John
Ghist from GRD for contributing their time, energy and ideas
to develop new innovations for NPS paleontology through
outreach, education and the use of new technologies.
I have been very fortunate to work with, and for, three
outstanding superintendents who recognized the value of NPS
efforts beyond individual park boundaries. I will always be
indebted to Dave McGinnis (BADL & FOBU), Gary Cummins
(PEFO) and David Vela (GWMP) for allowing me to work on
servicewide NPS paleontological resource issues.
Finally, one of my fond memories from my NPS career
took place in a surplus FEMA trailer that we obtained for our
Resource Management Program at FOBU in the late 1990s and
early 2000s. I was working half time between FOBU and the
NPS GRD, as the rst servicewide NPS paleontologist. I spent
some formative early days mapping out the goals, objectives
and dreams for the NPS Paleontology Program with Jason
Kenworthy and Alison Mims. One of our important discussions
involved how we should compile, organize and preserve all the
NPS paleontology data we were amassing for the parks. Jason,
Alison and I shared lots of great ideas, some of which have
been implemented and some of which served as the foundation
and road map for the work we are doing today in the NPS
Paleontology Program.
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599
APPENDIX A
List of 268 NPS units, organized by NPS region, in which fossils occur in situ within a geologic context, in museum collections,
and / or within a cultural resource context.
Asterisks (*) identify the 17 NPS units reference paleontological resources in their enabling legislation.
Alaska Region (14)
ANIA Aniakchak National Monument and Preserve
BELA Bering Land Bridge National Preserve*
CAKR Cape Krusenstern National Monument
DENA Denali National Park and Preserve
GAAR Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve
GLBA Glacier Bay National Monument and Preserve
KATM Katmai National Park and Preserve
KEFJ Kenai Fjords National Park
KOVA Kobuk Valley National Park
LACL Lake Clark National Park and Preserve
NOAT Noatak National Preserve
SITK Sitka National Historical Park
WRST Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve
YUCH Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve*
Intermountain Region (74)
ALFL Alibates Flint Quarry National Monument
AMIS Amistad National Recreation Area
ARCH Arches National Park
AZRU Aztec Ruins National Monument
BAND Bandelier National Monument
BEOL Bent's Old Fort National Historic Site
BIBE Big Bend National Park
BICA Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area
BITH Big Thicket National Preserve
BLCA Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park
BRCA Bryce Canyon National Park
CACH Canyon de Chelly National Monument
CAGR Casa Grande Ruins National Monument
CANY Canyonlands National Park
CARE Capitol Reef National Park
CAVE Carlsbad Caverns National Park
CEBR Cedar Breaks National Monument
CHCU Chaco Culture National Historical Park
CHIC Chickasaw National Recreation Area
CHIR Chiricahua National Monument
COLM Colorado National Monument
CORO Coronado National Memorial
CURE Curecanti National Recreation Area
DETO Devil's Tower National Monument
DINO Dinosaur National Monument*
ELMA El Malpais National Monument
ELMO El Morrow National Monument
FLFO Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument*
FOBO Fort Bowie National Historic Site
FOBU Fossil Butte National Monument*
FOLA Fort Laramie National Historic Site
GICL Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument
GLAC Glacier National Park
GLCA Glen Canyon National Recreation Area
GOSP Golden Spike National Historic Site
GRCA Grand Canyon National Park
GRSA Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve
GRTE Grand Teton National Park
GUMO Guadalupe Mountains National Park
HOVE Hovenweep National Monument
HUTR Hubbell Trading Post National Historic Site
JODR John D. Rockefeller, Jr., Memorial Parkway
LAMR Lake Meredith National Recreation Area
LIBI Little Bighorn Battleeld National Monument
MEVE Mesa Verde National Park
MOCA Montezuma Castle National Monument
NABR Natural Bridges National Monument
NAVA Navajo National Monument
ORPI Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument
PAIS Padre Island National Seashore
PAAL Palo Alto Battleeld National Historic Site
PECO Pecos National Historical Park
PEFO Petried Forest National Park*
PETR Petroglyphs National Monument
PIMA Hohokam Pima National Monument
PISP Pipe Spring National Monument
RABR Rainbow Bridge National Monument
RIGR Rio Grande Wild and Scenic River
ROMO Rocky Mountain National Park
SAAN San Antonio Missions National Historical Park
SAGU Saguaro National Park
SAPU Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument
TICA Timpanogos Cave National Monument
TONT Tonto National Monument
TUMA Tumacacori National Historical Park
TUZI Tuzigoot National Monument
VALL Valles Caldera National Preserve
WACA Walnut Canyon National Monument
WACO Waco Mammoth National Monument*
WHSA White Sands National Monument
WUPA Wupatki National Monument
YELL Yellowstone National Park
YUHO Yucca House National Monument
ZION Zion National Park*
Midwest Region (38)
AGFO Agate Fossil Beds National Monument*
APIS Apostle Islands National Lakeshore
BADL Badlands National Park
BUFF Buffalo National River
CHRO Chimney Rock National Historic Site
CUVA Cuyahoga Valley National Park
EFMO Efgy Mounds National Monument
FOLS Fort Larned National Historic Site
FOSC Fort Scott National Historic Site
FOUS Fort Union Trading Post National Historic Site
GWCA George Washington Carver National Monument
HEHO Herbert Hoover National Historic Site
HOCU Hopewell Culture National Historical Park
HOSP Hot Springs National Park
IATR Ice Age National Scientic Reserve/Scenic Trail
INDU Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore
ISRO Isle Royale National Park
JECA Jewel Cave National Monument
JEFF Jefferson National Expansion Memorial
KNRI Knife River Indian Villages National Historic Site
LIBO Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial
LIHO Lincoln Home National Historic Site
MISS Mississippi River National River & Recreation
Area
MNRR Missouri National Recreational River
NIOB Niobrara National Scenic River
600
OZAR Ozark National Scenic Riverways
PERI Pea Ridge National Military Park Riverway
PEVI Perry’s Victory & International Peace Memorial
PIRO Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
SACN Saint Croix National Scenic Riverway
SCBL Scotts Bluff National Monument
SLBE Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore
TAPR Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve
THRO Theodore Roosevelt National Park
ULSG Ulysses S Grant National Historic Site
VOYA Voyageurs National Park
WICA Wind Cave National Park
WICR Wilson’s Creek National Battleeld
National Capital Region (24)
ANAC Anacostia Park
ANTI Antietam National Battleeld
BAWA Baltimore Washington Parkway
CHOH Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical
Park
FODU Fort Dupont Park
FOFO Fort Foote Park
FOWA Fort Washington Park
FRDO Frederick Douglas National Historic Site
GWMP George Washington Memorial Parkway
GREE Greenbelt Park
HAFE Harpers Ferry National Historical Park
LINC Lincoln Memorial
MANA Manassas National Battleeld Park
MLKM Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial
MONO Monocacy National Battleeld
NAMA National Mall & Memorial Parks
OXCO Oxon Cove Park/Oxon Hill Farm
PISC Piscataway Park
PRWI Prince William Forest Park
ROCR Rock Creek Park
SUIT Suitland Parkway
THJE Thomas Jefferson Memorial
WAMO Washington Monument
WHHO White House – President’s Park
Northeast Region (32)
ACAD Acadia National Park
ALPO Allegheny Portage Railroad National Historic Site
ASIS Assateague Island National Seashore
BLUE Bluestone National Scenic River
BOHA Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area
CACO Cape Cod National Seashore
COLO Colonial National Historical Park
DEWA Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area
FIIS Fire Island National Seashore
FOMC Fort McHenry National Monument & Historic
Shrine
FOMR Fort Monroe National Monument
FONE Fort Necessity National Battleeld
FRSP Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania National Military
Park
GARI Gauley River National Recreation Area
GATE Gateway National Recreation Area
GETT Gettysburg National Military Park
GEWA George Washington Birthplace National
Monument
HATU Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National
Monument
INDE Independence National Historical Park
KAWW Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument*
MABI Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical
Park
NERI New River Gorge National River
PETE Petersburg National Battleeld
PINE Pinelands National Reserve
RICH Richmond National Battleeld Park
ROVA Roosevelt-Vanderbilt National Historic Sites
SARA Saratoga National Historical Park
SHEN Shenandoah National Park
SPAR Springeld Armory National Historic Park
EDIS Thomas Edison National Historical Park
UPDE Upper Delaware Scenic and Recreational River
VAFO Valley Forge National Historical Park
Pacic West Region (41)
CABR Cabrillo National Monument
CHIS Channel Islands National Park*
CIRO City of Rocks National Reserve
CRLA Crater Lake National Park
CRMO Craters of the Moon National Monument and
Preserve
DEVA Death Valley National Park*
EBLA Ebey’s Landing National Historical Reserve
FOVA Fort Vancouver National Historic Site
GOGA Golden Gate National Recreation Area
GRBA Great Basin National Park
HAFO Hagerman Fossil Beds National Monument*
HALE Haleakala National Park
HAVO Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
JODA John Day Fossil Beds National Monument*
JOMU John Muir National Historic Site
JOTR Joshua Tree National Park*
LABE Lava Beds National Monument
LAKE Lake Mead National Recreation Area
LARO Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area
LAVO Lassen Volcanic National Park
LEWI Lewis & Clark National Historical Park
MANZ Manzanar National Historic Site
MOJA Mojave National Preserve
MORA Mount Rainier National Park
NEPE Nez Perce National Historical Park
NOCA North Cascades National Park
OLYM Olympic National Park
ORCA Oregon Caves National Monument
PARA Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument*
PINN Pinnacles National Monument
PORE Point Reyes National Seashore
PUHO Pu’ Uhonua o Hōnaunau National Historic Park
REDW Redwood National and State Parks
SAJH San Juan Island National Historical Park
SAMO Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation
Area
SEKI Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks
TUSK Tule Springs Fossil Beds National Monument*
VALR World War II Valor in the Pacic National
Monument
WAPA War in the Pacic National Historical Park
WHIS Whiskeytown National Recreation Area
YOSE Yosemite National Park
Southeast Region (40)
ABLI Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historic
Site
BICY Big Cypress National Preserve
BISO Big South Fork National River and Recreation
Area
601
BISC Biscayne National Park
BLRI Blue Ridge Parkway
BRCR Brices Cross Roads National Battleeld Site
BUIS Buck Island Reef National Monument
CANA Canaveral National Seashore
CAHA Cape Hatteras National Seashore
CALO Cape Lookout National Seashore
CARL Carl Sandberg Home National Historic Site
CASA Castillo de San Marcos National Monument
CHCH Chickamauga & Chattanooga National Military
Park
CONG Congaree National Park
CUGA Cumberland Gap National Historical Park
CUIS Cumberland Island National Seashore
DESO De Soto National Memorial
DRTO Dry Tortugas National Park
EVER Everglades National Park
FODO Fort Donelson National Battleeld
FOFR Fort Frederica National Monument
FOMA Fort Matanzas National Monument
FOPU Fort Pulaski National Monument
FORA Fort Raleigh National Historic Site
FOSU Fort Sumter National Monument
GRSM Great Smoky Mountains National Park
GUIS Gulf Islands National Seashore
LIRI Little River Canyon National Preserve
MACA Mammoth Cave National Park
NATR Natchez Trace Parkway
OBED Obed Wild and Scenic River
OCMU Ocmulgee National Monument
RUCA Russell Cave National Monument
SARI Salt River National Historical Park & Ecological
Preserve
SHIL Shiloh National Military Park
STRI Stones River National Battleeld
TIMU Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve
TUIN Tuskegee Institute National Historic Site
VICK Vicksburg National Military Park
VIIS Virgin Islands National Park
National Trails (5) (within multiple regions)
APPA Appalachian National Scenic Trail
LECL Lewis & Clark National Historic Trail
OREG Oregon National Historic Trail
POHE Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail
SAFE Santa Fe National Historic Trail
... The Smithsonian Institution's United States National Museum of Natural History (USNM) is a repository for many fossil specimens found in national parks and on public land (Santucci et al. 2018). For THRO, the Smithsonian holds both the holotype and paratype of the freshwater clam Eupera missouriensis (USNM PAL 220078 and USNM PAL 220079), which were found in the Sentinel Butte Formation of the North Unit (Bickel 1976 In the 2003 field season, University of Wisconsin-Madison was given a scientific research and collecting permit. ...
... Park staff are also encouraged to communicate new discoveries to the NPS Paleontology Program, not only when support is desired, but in general, so that this information can be incorporated into the archives. A description of the Archives and Library can be found in Santucci et al. (2018). ...
Technical Report
Full-text available
A report on the paleontological resources found in Theodore Roosevelt National Park in western North Dakota including local geology, taxonomy of local fossils, fossil localities within the park, museum collections and paleontological archives of materials found in the park, a review of park paleontological research, paleontological interpretation, and paleontological resource management and protection.
... The NPS Paleontology Library is organized by last name of the author, and as of 2018 included approximately 7,000 digital documents. Additional information about the archives, including their present condition and history, is detailed in Santucci et al. (2018). ...
... Anything that documents paleontological management and research activities within the NPS or the lands it manages is subject to archiving. Santucci et al. (2018) contains a detailed account of the archives' scope. ...
Article
Full-text available
Executive Summary: Since Agate Springs Ranch was founded by James H. Cook in 1887, exquisite examples of transitional Miocene mammalian fauna have been found along this stretch of the Niobrara River valley. Collectively these paleontological discoveries, along with the existing archeological and historical Native American collection, were the basis for establishing Agate Fossil Beds National Monument (AGFO) as a unit of the National Park System (NPS). The fossil remains from the Harrison and Anderson Ranch formations span a short, but important, time period within the Miocene Epoch. AGFO has provided science with an intimate look into North American mammalian evolution of the time that is matched nowhere else, with body fossils and trace fossils (burrows) of many mammals in excellent condition. Investigation of the paleontological resources at AGFO has been very limited since its establishment, but the opportunities for research and discovery are still substantial. Public and academic interest in the Monument’s paleontological resources are considerable. Although there are existing legal authorities, policies and guidelines regarding the management of paleontological resources, at both the departmental and agency levels, more specific guidance would be helpful for the management of AGFO’s non-renewable fossils. This document has been prepared to provide more specific guidance and recommendations for paleontological resources management at AGFO.
... A great deal of information exists for this fossil record, as scientific publications, internal memos, informal communications, researchers' field notes, museum records, photographs, newspaper articles, and other documentation. In 2012, the NPS Paleontology Program began an ambitious project to organize this information (Paleontology Synthesis Project, or PSP) and archive it (NPS Paleontology Archives and Library), as documented in Santucci et al. (2018). These efforts have greatly improved the capacity of the NPS Paleontology Program to assess the paleontological resources of each park, make comparisons between park units, respond to queries from NPS staff and others, support research, and prepare reports on park resources. ...
Article
Full-text available
The data assembled for the National Park Service's Paleontology Synthesis Project (PSP) have made it feasible to analyze the geochronological scope of NPS paleontological resources. Paleontological resources have been documented for 283 NPS units and affiliated areas; 245 have confirmed in situ or reworked fossils. From this subset, the NPS record of paleontological resources spans from the Mesoproterozoic to the Quaternary, well over a billion years of Earth's history. In general, record distribution is related to the recency of a given time division and its duration: more recent divisions are more frequently represented by park fossils than older divisions, and longer divisions are more frequently represented than shorter divisions. Other factors influencing distribution include the presence or absence of organisms with mineralized body structures; the geographic distribution of parks (e.g., there are relatively few large eastern NPS units); and existing knowledge (paleontological work has been more heavily focused on western parks). Dividing time by eras in the Precambrian, periods in the Paleozoic and Mesozoic, and epochs in the Cenozoic, it can be seen that the most frequently represented divisions are the Cretaceous Period (fossils confirmed from 73 NPS units) and the Pleistocene (107) and Holocene (121) epochs. Almost all other divisions are represented by 25-45 NPS units. Park size is a major factor in how many divisions are represented at a given park; the two parks with the most complete records are Death Valley National Park and Denali National Park & Preserve. This analysis is another illustration of the large-scale questions that can be studied by the PSP. INTRODUCTION The National Park Service (NPS) includes some of the most notable fossil localities and fossiliferous strata in the United States, with a record of life extending back in time from the Quaternary well into the Mesoproterozoic. A great deal of information exists for this fossil record, as scientific publications, internal memos, informal communications, researchers' field notes, museum records, photographs, newspaper articles, and other documentation. In 2012, the NPS Paleontology Program began an ambitious project to organize this information (Paleontology Synthesis Project, or PSP) and archive it (NPS Paleontology Archives and Library), as documented in Santucci et al. (2018). These efforts have greatly improved the capacity of the NPS Paleontology Program to assess the paleontological resources of each park, make comparisons between park units, respond to queries from NPS staff and others, support research, and prepare reports on park resources. The PSP format also provides a framework for adding new information on paleontological resources in parks, and has helped to identify deficiencies in the knowledge base and areas of high potential for future discoveries. Several thematic files were created as part of the organization of the PSP, collating information pertaining to specific topics including: holotype specimens from NPS areas (Tweet et al., 2016); museum repositories holding NPS fossils; the taxonomic diversity of NPS fossils (Tweet and Santucci, 2021); and the subject of this report, the servicewide occurrence of fossils over geologic time. The temporal distribution of the fossils found in NPS units has never been systematically investigated, and there was no framework for investigating this topic before the initiation of the PSP. The assembled data presented here provide a picture of the breadth and depth of the collective NPS paleontological record through geologic time.
... Monument staff are also encouraged to communicate new discoveries to the NPS Paleontology Program, not only when support is desired, but in general, so that this information can be incorporated into the archives. A description of the Archives and Library can be found in Santucci et al. (2018). ...
Technical Report
Full-text available
This is a comprehensive inventory of paleontological resources in Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument.
... A great deal of information exists for this fossil record, as scientific publications, internal memos, informal communications, researchers' notes, museum records, photographs, newspaper articles, and other documentation. Beginning in 2012, the NPS Paleontology Program began an ambitious project to organize this information (Paleontology Synthesis Project, or PSP) and archive it (NPS Paleontology Archives and Library), as documented in Santucci et al. (2018). These data have greatly improved the capacity of the NPS Paleontology Program to assess the paleontological resources of each park, make comparisons between park units, respond to queries from NPS staff and others, support research, and prepare reports on park resources. ...
Article
Full-text available
The vast taxonomic breadth of the National Park Service (NPS)'s fossil record has never been systematically examined until now. Paleontological resources have been documented within 277 NPS units and affiliated areas as of the date of submission of this publication (Summer 2020). The paleontological records of these units include fossils from dozens of high-level taxonomic divisions of plants, invertebrates, and vertebrates, as well as many types of ichnofossils and microfossils. Using data and archives developed for the NPS Paleontology Synthesis Project (PSP) that began in 2012, it is possible to examine and depict the broad taxonomic diversity of these paleontological resources. The breadth of the NPS fossil record ranges from Proterozoic microfossils and stromatolites to Quaternary plants, mollusks, and mammals. The most diverse taxonomic records have been found in parks in the western United States and Alaska, which are generally recognized for their long geologic records. Conifers, angiosperms, corals, brachiopods, bivalves, gastropods, artiodactyls, invertebrate burrows, and foraminiferans are among the most frequently reported fossil groups. Small to microscopic fossils such as pollen, spores, the bones of small vertebrates, and the tests of marine plankton are underrepresented because of their size and the specialized equipment and techniques needed to study them. The improved capacity to rapidly analyze the fossil record of NPS units granted by the PSP is valuable for pursuing resource management goals, and for making the wealth of NPS paleontological resources more available for scientific, educational, and interpretive purposes. INTRODUCTION The National Park Service includes some of the most notable fossil localities and fossiliferous strata in the United States, with a record extending back in time from the Quaternary well into the Mesoproterozoic. A great deal of information exists for this fossil record, as scientific publications, internal memos, informal communications, researchers' notes, museum records, photographs, newspaper articles, and other documentation. Beginning in 2012, the NPS Paleontology Program began an ambitious project to organize this information (Paleontology Synthesis Project, or PSP) and archive it (NPS Paleontology Archives and Library), as documented in Santucci et al. (2018). These data have greatly improved the capacity of the NPS Paleontology Program to assess the paleontological resources of each park, make comparisons between park units, respond to queries from NPS staff and others, support research, and prepare reports on park resources. The PSP format also provides a framework for adding new information on paleontological resources in parks, and has helped to identify deficiencies in the knowledge base and areas of high potential for future discoveries. As part of the organization of the PSP, several thematic files were created, collating information pertaining to specific categories including: the servicewide occurrence of fossils over geologic time; holotype specimens from NPS areas (Tweet et al., 2016); museum repositories holding NPS fossils; and the subject of this report, the taxonomic diversity of NPS fossils. The taxonomic diversity of the fossils found in National Park Service units has never been systematically investigated, and there was no framework for investigating this topic before the initiation of the PSP. The assembled data presented here provide a picture of the breadth and depth of taxonomic diversity within the NPS.
... The National Park Service began compiling data on paleontological resources within the parks in 1985 (Santucci et al. 2018). This work resulted in the creation of the NPS Paleontology Archives and Library which includes paleontological information obtained in NPS research, results of literature searches, and interviews with people knowledgeable about local geology. ...
Article
Full-text available
Belemnites (order Belemnitida) are an extinct group of coleoid cephalopods, known from the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods. We compiled detailed information on 252 occurrences of belemnites in six National Park Service (NPS) areas in Alaska. This information was based on published literature and maps, unpublished U.S. Geological Survey internal fossil reports ("Examination and Report on Referred Fossils" or E&Rs), the U.S. Geological Survey Mesozoic locality register, the Alaska Paleontological Database, the NPS Paleontology Archives and our own records of belemnites found in museum collections. Few specimens have been identified and many consist of fragments. However, even these suboptimal specimens provide evidence that belemnites are present in given formations and provide direction for future research. Two especially interesting avenues for research concern the time range of belemnites in Alaska. Belemnites are known to have originated in what is now Europe in the Early Jurassic Hettangian and to have a well-documented worldwide distribution in the Early Jurassic Toarcian. Some researchers (Iba et al. 2011) suggest that belemnites were absent from the North Pacific after the Early Cretaceous. We found several claims of belemnites prior to the Toarcian and in the Late Cretaceous. However, there were potential limitations in the data. These findings indicate a strong need for further collecting and detailed study of the specimens to assure that the Sinemurian-age belemnites are truly belemnites rather than aulacocerids, a morphologically similar taxon with earlier origins. Reassessment of the age of the strata in which possible Early Jurassic and Late Cretaceous belemnites are found is crucial. Further studies could shed light on the evolution and migration patterns of belemnites, and on the motion of terranes that make up Alaska.
... There are at least 276 units within the National Park Service (NPS) in which paleontological resources have been documented, representing a wide diversity of trace and body fossils of animals, plants, and other organisms (Santucci, 2017;Santucci et al., 2018). Some parks are expressly dedicated to promoting the preservation and study of paleontological materials, such as Dinosaur National Monument in Colorado and Utah. ...
Chapter
Full-text available
Structure-from-motion (SfM) photogrammetry is an increasingly common component of paleontological research and fossil resources management. The three-dimensional (3D) data and the derived products allow for novel and useful avenues to engage and problem-solve with park resource managers and stakeholders. The National Park Service (NPS) is developing a robust SfM program to support park units with resource documentation and monitoring efforts, training for staff, and building capacity for 3D data processing. We report on three case studies as examples where SfM techniques have been applied: 1) monitoring of paleontological localities; 2) documenting in situ fossil discoveries; and 3) digitization of fossil specimens in museum collections. The capacity within the NPS for photogrammetry to support paleontological research is also enhancing collaborative efforts resulting in new fossil discoveries in NPS areas. The case study for Curecanti National Recreation Area (CURE) is the design and testing of monitoring methods for paleontological resources subject to accelerated erosion due to reservoir management. The fossil locations at CURE are inundated by reservoir pool level changes, with loss of paleontological resources to erosion, burial and permanent submersion as the beach is reworked by wave energy due to fluctuating water level elevations. At Glen Canyon National Recreation Area a recently discovered track block with numerous vertebrate trace fossils was documented. The fossil tracks on the block appear on a bedding surface of a large vertically oriented fallen slab of Wingate Sandstone. Photogrammetry has enabled detailed 3D mapping and surface topology analysis of the slab, revealing in more detail the abundant theropod tracks and trackways. The digital nature of photogrammetric data also opens new avenues for engaging with scientists and the public. These data can be grouped into digital collections for showcasing a park's paleontological resources and are easily adapted for producing 3D replicas. Use of such models allows outreach to current and new park audiences and others who benefit from interaction with tactile elements. Rapid prototyping technology (e.g., 3D printing) employs newer materials and comes with lower costs when compared to traditional fossil replication methods. New applications for 3D data and SfM photogrammetry methods will continue to expand within paleontological research. The NPS continues to take positive strides to be at the forefront of developing SfM methods for paleontology.
... Park staff are also encouraged to communicate new discoveries to the NPS Paleontology Program, not only when support is desired, but in general, so that this information can be incorporated into the archives. A description of the NPS Paleontology Archives and Library can be found in Santucci et al. (2018). ...
Article
Full-text available
This document is an inventory of the paleontological resources of Carlsbad Caverns National Park (CAVE), representing a combination of field work and literature synthesis. It begins with background summaries about the park and its geological, paleontological, and scientific history. It then moves into descriptions of paleontological resources including taxa present, fossil localities, and museum collections. Lastly, it finishes by touching on the relationships paleontological resources have with other CAVE programs such as interpretation and law enforcement, general information about paleontological resource management and protection, and management recommendations. Appendices include lists of fossil taxa found within CAVE, a list of external repositories of paleontological resources, a summary of caves within the park with documented paleontological resources, a listing of pertinent laws and authorities on paleontological resources, and a geologic time scale. Carlsbad Caverns National Park, also a world heritage site, is renowned for the park’s namesake cavern, which is extensive, well decorated, and possesses exceptionally large rooms. Several other caves at the park add to CAVE’s fame and importance, such as Lechuguilla Cave, the eighth longest cave in the world. More than 120 other caves, and numerous additional karst features dissolved out of the Permian-age Capitan Limestone and associated formations such as the Seven Rivers, Yates, and Tansill formations, can be found in the park. These rock units represent the slope, reef, back-reef, and nearshore/evaporite facies of a massive reef complex and shelf system that existed during the middle Permian (Guadalupian); the same rock units exposed within the caves can be found at the surface in nearby Guadalupe Mountains National Park (GUMO). Owing to its origins as a reef complex, the bedrock of CAVE is extensively, and often abundantly, fossiliferous. With the exception of one small exposure of a basinal formation, there is likely no section of the park bedrock where fossils could not be found. Besides the Permian fossils, the fossilized remains and traces of terrestrial Pleistocene and Holocene organisms are located within the caves themselves. These are from roosting sites, dens, or natural traps.
... The National Park Service Paleontology Program (WASO) maintains a copy of all digital and hardcopy field notes, sketches, photographs, maps, reports, publications, and lists of archived fossil specimens at GRCA (Santucci et al. 2018). This ensures the safety of paleontological resource data in the event either GRCA or WASO archives are lost. ...
... Park staff are also encouraged to communicate new discoveries to the NPS Paleontology Program, not only when support is desired, but in general, so that this information can be incorporated into the archives. A description of the Archives and Library can be found in Santucci et al. (2018). ...
Technical Report
Full-text available
This National Park Service report is the public version of the Chaco Culture National Historical Park paleontological resource inventory. All sensitive paleontological locality data has been redacted from this version of the report.
Conference Paper
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Fossil reproductions or replicas generated by rapid prototyping technology (3D printing) can aid public land managers achieve preservation, research, education and outreach goals. Replicas are a tool commonly used for remote study of scientifically important specimens. Specimens commonly rendered as reproductions include fossils or archeological artifacts. These specimens are generally susceptible to degradation or destruction if maintained in situ, whether through natural processes (e.g., weathering) or anthropogenic impacts. A reproduction is a viable substitute for the actual specimen, but traditional casting materials and procedures, such as plaster or latex molds, can lead to resource degradation. Photogrammetric methods to produce a digital record of two in situ fossils were utilized to create scale reproductions using a 3D printer.
Article
Full-text available
Dinosaurs have captured the interest and imagination of the general public, particularly children, around the world. Paleontological resource inventories within units of the National Park Service have revealed that body and trace fossils of non-avian dinosaurs have been documented in at least 21 National Park Service areas. In addition there are two historically associated occurrences, one equivocal occurrence, two NPS areas with dinosaur tracks in building stone, and one case where fossils have been found immediately outside of a monument's boundaries. To date, body fossils of non-avian dinosaurs are documented at 14 NPS areas, may also be present at another, and are historically associated with two other parks. Dinosaur trace fossils have been documented at 17 NPS areas and are visible in building stone at two parks. Most records of NPS dinosaur fossils come from park units on the Colorado Plateau, where body fossils have been found in Upper Jurassic and Lower Cretaceous rocks at many locations, and trace fossils are widely distributed in Upper Triassic and Jurassic rocks. Two NPS units are particularly noted for their dinosaur fossils: Dinosaur National Monument (Upper Triassic through Lower Cretaceous) and Big Bend National Park (Upper Cretaceous). To date, fourteen dinosaur species have been named from fossils discovered in NPS areas, the most famous probably being the sauropod Apatosaurus louisae. Increasing interest in the paleontology of the parks over the past few decades has brought many of these body and trace fossils to light. Future paleontological field inventories and research will likely yield new dinosaur finds from NPS areas.
Article
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The fossil record preserved throughout the National Park Service spans more than a billion years and is documented in at least 267 park units. The discovery, collection, study, and resource management of fossils from localities which are currently within parks sometimes predate the establishment of the National Park Service and many of the parks. Public education and interpretation at parks such as Agate Fossil Beds and Tule Springs Fossil Beds national monuments and many other designated areas include information on the rich history of paleontological field work by notable paleontologists undertaken prior to the areas being preserved as national park areas. Another important historical aspect for several dozen parks involves the conservation efforts undertaken by the public and interest groups to preserve and protect these important fossil localities. The evolution of the science and methodologies in paleontology is reflected in the resource management undertaken by the National Park Service and documented in park resource management records and archives, scientific publications, and agency policy. Today the National Park Service celebrates fossils by coordinating the National Fossil Day partnership which helps to promote the scientific and educational value of fossils.
Article
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The Chinle Formation and the lower part of the overlying Wingate Sandstone and Moenave Formation were deposited in fluvial, lacustrine, paludal, and eolian environments during the Norian and Rhaetian stages of the Late Triassic (~230 to 201.3 Ma), during which time the climate shifted from subtropical to increasingly arid. In southern Utah, the Shinarump Member was largely confined to pre-Chinle paleovalleys and usually overprinted by mottled strata. From southeastern to southwestern Utah, the lower members of the Chinle Formation (Cameron Member and correlative Monitor Butte Member) thicken dramatically whereas the upper members of the Chinle Formation (the Moss Back, Petrified Forest, Owl Rock, and Church Rock Members) become erosionally truncated; south of Moab, the Kane Springs beds are laterally correlative with the Owl Rock Member and uppermost Petrified Forest Member. Prior to the erosional truncation of the upper members, the Chinle Formation was probably thickest in a southeast to northwest trend between Petrified Forest National Park and the Zion National Park, and thinned to the northeast due to the lower Chinle Formation lensing out against the flanks of the Ancestral Rocky Mountains, where the thickness of the Chinle is largely controlled by syndepositional salt tectonism. The Gartra and Stanaker Members of the Ankareh Formation are poorly understood Chinle Formation correlatives north of the San Rafael Swell. Osteichthyan fish, metoposaurid temnospondyls, phytosaurids, and crocodylomorphs are known throughout the Chinle Formation, although most remains are fragmentary. In the Cameron and Monitor Butte Members, metoposaurids are abundant and non-pseudopalatine phytosaurs are known, as is excellent material of the paracrocodylomorph Poposaurus; fragmentary specimens of the aetosaurs Calyptosuchus, Desmatosuchus, and indeterminate paratypothoracisins were probably also recovered from these beds. Osteichthyans, pseudopalatine phytosaurs, and the aetosaur Typothorax are especially abundant in the Kane Springs beds and Church Rock Member of Lisbon Valley, and Typothorax is also known from the Petrified Forest Member in Capitol Reef National Park. Procolophonids, doswelliids, and dinosaurs are known but extremely rare in the Chinle Formation of Utah. Body fossils and tracks of osteichthyans, therapsids, crocodylomorphs, and theropods are well known from the lowermost Wingate Sandstone and Moenave Formation, especially from the St. George Dinosaur Discovery Site at Johnson Farm.
Article
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Dinosaurs and other fossils capture the imagination of people of all ages from around the globe. An assessment of the wide range of human values associated with paleontological resources reveals strong and sometimes conflicting perspectives. Given the fact that fossils are non-renewable resources, decision-making relative to the use, conservation and stewardship of paleontological resources must recognize and consider the human dimensions of fossils. Scientific, educational, recreational, commercial and other human values may directly influence the motivations and behaviors of individuals as they relate to paleontological resources. The unauthorized collection of fossils from public lands, including theft and vandalism, entails a variety of legal, ethical, economic and social factors that need to be assessed in conjunction with the planning and implementation of public policy. The purpose of this review is to initiate the compilation of baseline information on the human dimensions of paleontological resources in order to develop a conceptual framework and more clearly identify the most crucial questions to address in future research.
Technical Report
Full-text available
More than 3,600 caves and karst resources have been identified in at least 79 units of the National Park System. In 1998, the National Park Service Geologic Resources Division initiated a servicewide inventory of paleontological resources occurring in association with these caves. The inventory documented at least 35 park areas that preserved fossils within cave resources. Cave-paleontological resources are identified in two categories: 1) fossils preserved within the cave-forming bedrock, and 2) fossils accumulated within the caverns, chambers, or other openings in karst systems. Caves occur in both karst and non-karst areas. Karst caves, and features within them such as stalactites and stalagmites, are formed by a variety of processes. These processes include the dissolution and erosion of sedimentary and evaporitic rocks, and later deposition of minerals from the dissolution process. Within limestones, the remains of marine invertebrate and vertebrate fossils are typically preserved. Paleozoic limestones constitute the parent rock in which many cave and karst features develop in NPS administered areas. Therefore, the fossilized remains of Paleozoic fauna are often the most common types of paleontological resource associated with caves. Caves also form as the result of lava flows (lava tubes), wave action (littoral caves), and by the fracturing of rock (earth cracks). Cave feature development is documented from the Holocene back to the Eocene. Caves, sinkholes, solution tubes, and other karst features attract and can trap animals. Pleistocene and Holocene vertebrate remains are abundant in many caves. Rich deposits of fossil bone can develop either through the accumulation of remains associated with organisms inhabiting the cave, such as Neotoma (packrats), or through a variety of transport mechanisms.
Article
The Morrison Extinct Ecosystem project is generating interesting results that, although preliminary in nature, are starting to converge on an integrated reconstruction of the Late Jurassic habitat in the Western Interior of the United States. A workshop in April, 1996, helped the participants learn where their data are in agreement and where remaining inconsistencies in the data exist. The workshop thus helped focus collective and individual efforts for the remaining field season so that additional field research and sample collection could be directed toward addressing the unresolved questions. A much more complete picture of the Morrison ecosystem is emerging, with such lines of evidence as the isotopic data confirming regional tectonic interpretations, and trace fossils adding subtle but significant clues to the interpretations of the ancient climate and water-table position and fluctuations. A mesic climate interpretation with a moderate amount of available moisture is derived from some of the plant fossils and, at first glance, contrasts with evidence of an arid to semi-arid climate based on the presence of saline, alkaline lake deposits; eolian strata; and evaporite deposits. Thus, the climate may have changed periodically or episodically, leaving evidence in the geologic record of the contrasting climate regimes-not all of which existed at the same time. A possible resolution of these discrepancies is that there was marked seasonality in which part of the year was relatively dry, as reflected by the arid to semiarid environmental indicators, whereas there may have been more precipitation during other parts of the year, as reflected by the more mesic environmental indicators. An additional factor that will need to be evaluated further is the role of the water table. The trace fossils suggest a fairly shallow water table that many of the plants, especially the larger ones, could tap throughout the year and therefore not be unduly affected by seasonal dryness. Also to be evaluated is the possibility that plants grew near stream courses or in overbank ponds in areas having a high water table, and that areas away from the streams were drier. These issues will be the focus of the remaining work, as outlined at the conclusion of the workshop.