Steve & I spent 5 days at Badlands National Park in South Dakota last week. One of the highlights of our adventure was finding what I think is a fossilized bone. This post is my way of reporting that find to a Physical Science Technician in Paleontology at the park. I don’t have a GPS device to help him locate the find, so I’m walking him (and any other readers) to it through this blog post. If you happen to visit the park and find this bone (or any others), please leave it undisturbed. It is essential to have it in its original place in the sedimentary layers of rock in order to determine vital information.
I initially spotted and photographed the bone on September 22 and filled out the reporting form at the Visitor’s Center. The next day, I returned to take additional photos to help lead the paleontology team to its location. I just got home last night, and can now download my photos to this blog and share them.
The crosswalk over Hwy 240 at the Visitors Center leads to a creek wash that starts at a lone cottonwood tree and goes west toward the rocky ridge. There is a separate rocky hill to the right of that wash. Follow the wash beyond that hill as it curves to the left. The peak with the squared-off top is a primary landmark. The fossil I saw is in the face of a hill to the left of that peak. Click on the first photo of this gallery to see the series in a slideshow.
I was absolutely thrilled and humbled to discover this little white tubular thing. I hope it’s a genuine fossil. Even if it’s not anything significant to science, the invitation to observe and participate in sharing this observation is significant to me.
I am a huge fan of the National Parks and happy to purchase an Annual Pass in support of America’s Best Idea. I hope that future generations continue to value, respect, and protect these places that show the unique and autonomous nature of the Earth.
*** Update 10/4/2018***
From a letter from the Paleontologist at the Park:
“That is a humerus or upper arm bone (the bone that articulates with the scapula in the shoulder). It looks to be in relatively complete condition, albeit weathered and fractured. It also looks like there may be additional fragments of bone eroding on that slope. Unfortunately, I can’t see enough of them to make any interpretations on what they might be.
Based on the size of the humerus and it’s general shape, however, I would make an educated guess that it probably came from an oreodont (of the family Merycoidodontidae). As you may be aware from your visit, oreodonts are the most common, abundant, and widespread mammal found in the fossil record here at Badlands. From 36 to 27 million years ago (during the Eocene and Oligocene Epochs), they were an exceptionally prosperous group of herbivores that dotted the landscape, probably living together in large herds. They would have been a key prey item for many carnivores, such as dogs and the ancestral cat-like lineage called nimravids (family Nimravidae). As a group within the animal kingdom, the last known oreodonts finally disappeared from the planet during the Pliocene Epoch some 4 to 5 million years ago.”
So very cool! *smiles*
The example set for this challenge is exceptional. Please take a look at Krista’s post on WordPress.
I am thrilled when someone sets the bar high. “We can do better,” Steve often says, as a sort of mantra to a deeper call to “do no harm”. Here he is in Canyonlands National Park, just outside of Bears Ears National Monument. Can we ascend to higher thinking about how we treat wild places?
The newest addition to the National Park system is Pinnacles National Park. What is our goal for protecting the natural beauty and balance of this place we call America? Have we reached that summit? Are we striving to ascend towards it?
Since I now have a Facebook account, I have been posting many of my photographs there to share with my immediate family instead of on my blog. I feel like I have rather neglected my Blog family, though, so I thought I’d catch you up with some of my favorite shots.
This one is simply a prairie beauty, the Fringed Gentian. Take a moment to read D.H. Lawrence’s poem Bavarian Gentians – he captures the dark, sensual mystery of this flower quite well.
I found the gentians while on a walk with my son and future daughter-in-law. They represent the Beginnings in the title of this post.
My son has asked me to do a special photo shoot of them next month down at Starved Rock in Illinois. I’m excited (and a little nervous!) about that.
Steve & I had a wonderful late summer road ramble last Saturday. We’re planning a 12-day camping trip for next month, possibly to Superior National Forest in MN. I’m looking forward to photographing more Fall color, mushrooms, and another Great Lake.
And work continues at the Conservation Foundation. I try to get outside locally to remind myself why it’s important to preserve the natural spaces around here.
Thanks for visiting this blog and Happy Fall! I hope you get outside often to enjoy the changing season.
All photographs © Priscilla Galasso, 2017. All rights reserved.
I’m gonna show my age and admit that when I hear the word “structure”, I can’t help remembering Madeline Kahn in Paper Moon telling Tatum O’Neill that she’s got good ‘bone struck-cha’.
How my sisters and I giggled over that line!
I do love the resilience of ancient structures, man-made…
“Hey, look! A plastic castle!”
No thank you. Plastic? Yuck. Man made? Not interested.
My favorite diversions, distractions, and delightful detours are definitely of the flowers-and-butterflies variety.
But to tell you the truth, these things are not merely beautiful bagatelles. These are the elements of a grand eco-system, the intrinsic parts of a working Universe. And so I am trying to be that disciplined, working person that focuses on protecting these habitats. They are not my distraction, then, they are my day plan.
Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park
I was 9 years old and seeing the mountains of Colorado for the first time the last time I was here. Frankly, the only thing I remember of it from back then is the name. It kind of scared me.