This adventure was millions of years in the making. We go on an exciting fossil-hunting expedition and learn about the incredible history of geologic and cultural wonders of Wyoming. Our hosts journey back in time for a quest to unearth new fossils and take in ancient rock art at White Mountain Petroglyphs – as well as find time for modern adventures at the nearby Killpecker Sand Dunes.

ever see that uh Brad Pitt movie

our river runs through it no Fight Club is that one I’ve seen it’s good movie yeah similar ties to what we’re doing now I am pretty stoked to be out in camera it’s a blue ribbon stream Jim yeah have you caught much yet nothing yet no nothing yet but they’re out there oh we’re waiting for the cameras to get here I threw a couple back but now I am excited this is the start of uh what should be a pretty awesome adventure down here in the southwest you know I agree what do you know about camera outside of fossil Butte Second National Monument within Wyoming so that’s a big thing to hang their hat on first JCPenney first JC Penney that’s right kind of a uh deserty area yeah but it’s pretty but yeah pretty I mean I’m standing in a river yeah come across places like this kind of off the beaten path a little bit yeah but you know we got a few days of fossil hunting ahead of us that’s that’s wild that’s gonna be that’s gonna be something else we’re gonna find fossils right that’s the plan I know I’m going to I don’t know if you are but I don’t know but like I’m gonna find something go find something

so uh Jimbo yep who taught you how to fish uh I thought that’s where we’re here you’re supposed to teach me let’s get a steak

thank you

camera Wyoming I mean it’s got a good vibe in this town it does you’re coming across from Utah you know big Gateway Salt Lake City is not that far away not far at all you’re if you’re cruising through heading to Yellowstone or Jackson absolutely should stop here definitely worth a stop it’s something different it’s something often beaten path yeah what uh what are we doing here Jimbo we’re looking for fossils I feel like fossil Rock’s jewelry and unique things might have some the dinosaur fossil rocks what else give it away it’s good lead let’s do this in Rex We Trust yep there’s some cool stuff in here there’s some incredible stuff it’s a big fish a little starfish shells this is amazing all the stuff if we can find just half of one of these anything I feel like that’s gonna be exciting like I’m just gonna be pumped if like one of us found poop yeah I feel like you’re a little too excited about that this is amazing look at this stuff we’re gonna find something look at this mess with these yeah holy cow look at how perfect that is whoa Sean the mega fossil whoa holy goodness is that uh nature the state fossil of Wyoming it might be it’s from Lincoln County Wyoming that’s cool all right I have to find this yeah add it to the list of what we needed to find let’s get digging let’s do it

here we go man the Butte the Butte that’s what I call it rare to find some fossils ready to find them all which one do you want to find first megalodons Megalodon yep it’s from the early period foreign

immature Lotus Brew I feel like that’s our fruit I envisioned me finding like the perfect perfect just perfection um dragonfly yep that would be pretty cool but you know what you’re gonna find poop

hi there from the uh museum curator and paleontologist here at fossil Butte National Monument oh wonderful thank you for uh taking the time to meet with us today how old are the things that we’re seeing here today Fossil Lake was here at an unusual time 52 million years ago the lake itself is 1500 square miles but the fossils don’t occur everywhere just in certain limestones where they’re highly productive and that’s more in the center of the lake why are they not more kind of easily dispersed out in the middle of the lake we had salt water at the bottom freshwater up above so you don’t have bacteria down there they’re decomposing these things so when the fish or other organisms settle to the bottom and there’s nothing to decompose them other than the bacteria in themselves such as this gentleman here notice the bones are kind of scattered through the body that’s because this one died and then bloated allowing the bones inside to Jumble up and I settled to the bottom with the skin still hold in place well

the fish commonly will settle to the bottom and the water pressure keeps it down and a perfect fossil fish you know we’re in a fairly remote part of Wyoming beautiful but remote and you don’t think of much Beyond maybe trout there’s much more than fish that you’ve that you’ve found here I mean this is one prime example but what are some of the other pieces of fluoride fauna that you might might be notable fish are the most common by far beyond that we have over 30 species of bird known it’s this deposit has more diversity of birds more different species of birds than any other single deposit in the world and then of course you got your aquatic reptiles the mammals are quite unusual to find less common because they have to somehow get into the middle of the lake our most abundant mammals bats there’s over 30 specimens of bats found that’s a good wide variety of things I mean it’s amazing it’s very broad the scope of what has been discovered in this in this area what do you see when kids come in here what are they most astonished by what excites most people including kids here they can recognize what they see oh it’s a fish it’s a turtle it’s a crocodile they can see it because it’s all so well preserved and just laid out on these flat slabs and that makes everybody excited because they feel like they know something about and that’s great it’s so easy to recognize them so our little research Quarry it’s only a block of rock about five feet wide 12 feet long and we’ve only gone down about four feet and we’ve gotten nearly we’re just six fossils short of 5 000 fossils out of that block of rock and we’ve been working it since 1997. nobody’s ever collected the very detailed data that we’re doing we do have a program where you can go up to our research Quarry and interact with the staff who’s up there working and Excavating fossils scientifically and taking a very detailed information

nice to meet you thanks for having us hey thanks for coming out welcome to Fossil Lake we’re standing on a 52 million year old lake bed and it’s one of the greatest fossil formations in all the world so I appreciate you coming and we’re going to find some fossils today I’m going to teach you how to do it every time you split you’re gonna be the first person to ever see what’s in there I’ll get you some Hammers and chisels here great great and teach you how to do this all right tools with the trade that’s it which one’s the hammer Patrick

Moment of Truth I got some stuff in there got some stuff in there taking up this little guy let’s see see what we got nothing yet oh oh that’s cool you found another one

not much yet I mean I’m no biologist but that’s definitely poop okay another one

this is what I love about this I don’t know what that is all right

that’s exciting I’m actually I’m actually really excited that’s cool oh cool hey gab so this is Deb he manages a quarry there’s structure to it I legitimately just found this and I don’t know that keeps us excited sure that goes into a pile that’s cool we don’t know what it is yeah that’s exciting very cool very cool

whoa nice man that’s awesome that’s really good how cool is that yeah that’s a full-on fish full fish look at there’s two nice dude that was good that’s a good one save that bad boy yeah no kidding


all right Sean what’d we come here to do big fossils what do we do we dug fossils we found fossils total success yeah this has been epic yeah this place is wonderful camera false Beauty National Monument American fossils dig it yeah yeah I mean there’s a lot to do in the southwest there is and this is obviously a fertile ground for not just fossils and the discovery of incredibly ancient artifacts but things that are more near and important to human history Through the Ages exactly we are on the trail to the White Mountain petroglyphs at the basic Forum petroglyphs are essentially rock art okay but there is culture and spiritual meaning behind them so it kind of tells the story of years and years millions of years of History okay and there’s not many sites like this out there sure let alone in Wyoming let alone in the world and there’s petroglyphs everywhere all the entire length this face and who knows what’s on the back side exactly this is pretty amazing just what’s accessible to imagine like what was going through somebody’s mind a hundred years ago 200 years ago 2 000 years ago when they put this art here absolutely and telling their story that’s super cool look at these that’s cool yeah yeah like a person here right there yeah that’s cool the National Park Service has some history around the petroglyphs because they are prevalent throughout Wyoming evidently 90 of them can be traced back to today’s now Pueblo people wow so 90 yeah it’s pretty significant now that’s cool another person there that’s super cool there’s all sorts of amazing designs and then there’s this huge one I don’t know what oh well yeah what this is but it’s beautiful it’s huge I mean oh that’s awesome it’s incredible yeah it’s incredible and you’re away from everybody exactly yeah there’s there’s nothing out here you can be completely alone you can get away from the crowds it’s entirely different world here I mean folks think of Wyoming they think of mountains which they should sure they think the rivers which they should but here’s High Plains desert fossils petroglyphs what’s not to enjoy you know some Adventures just defy explanation yep I feel like this is one of those I think it is I think this is gonna be an epic one was the famous philosopher from Sheridan once said it’s time to shred some sick turns let’s do this

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