From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Fossil Butte National Monument is a unit of the
National Park Service located 15
miles west of Kemmerer, Wyoming; the national monument was established on
October 23, 1972. The site preserves the best paleontological
record of Tertiary aquatic communities in North America and
possibly the world, within the 50-million-year-old Green
River lake beds. Fossils preserved, including fish, alligators,
bats, turtles, dog-sized horses, insects, and many other species of
plants and animals suggest that the region was a low, subtropical,
freshwater basin when the sediments accumulated, over about a 2
Coal mining for the railroad led to the settlement of the nearby
town of Fossil, Wyoming, now a ghost town. When
the fossils were discovered, miners dug them up to sell to
collectors. In particular, Lee Craig sold fossils from 1897 to
1937. Commercial fossil collecting is not allowed within the
National Monument, but numerous quarries on private land nearby
continue to produce extraordinary fossil specimens, both for
museums and for private collectors.
The Visitor Center features over 80 fossils and fossil casts on
exhibit, including fish, a crocodile, turtle, bats, birds, insects
and plants. A 13-minute video is shown about the fossils found at
the site and what scientists have learned. Interactive exhibits let
visitors create fossil rubbings to take home, and a computer
program discusses fossils, geology and the current natural history
of the monument.
During the summer, lab personnel prepare fossils in public.
Summer activities also include ranger programs, hikes, paleontology
and geology talks, and participation in fossil quarry collections
for the park.
Fossil Butte, photo courtesy USGS
Fossil palm frond, photo courtesy USGS