Friday, November 25, 2005

North America's Oldest Bird Tracks In Utah

I possess a few shale slabs bearing 2 different sizes/types of fossil bird tracks. I collected these rare curiosities years ago near Soldier Summit in Spanish Fork Canyon, Utah, where rocks of the famous Green River shale are exposed. The rocks and tracks are Eocene in age ~50 million years old.

Now paleontologists have discovered more fossil bird tracks in Utah, this time from mid-Cretaceous rocks near Moab. These new fossils are about 125 million years old, which places them among the dinosaurs, and the oldest bird tracks known from the continent.

A super exposition of the geologic time scale can be found at Wikipedia.

Photos of Eocene fossil bird tracks (scroll way down) from Soldier Summit are found in this interesting article, which goes into great detail to show how creationists have grossly misused the sedimentary and fossil record of the Green River formation in attempts to prove the occurence of a global (biblical) flood.

The matter of Moab: You need to visit. Make it your base for visiting the many wondrous state and national parks, redrock canyons, and sweeping desolate vistas, all within a day's driving distance of the town. The opportunities for serious sightseeing, hiking, biking, camping, fishing, boating, photography and other activities are endless, including camel trekking. Along about February/March high pressure cells over the region make for clear skies and achingly beautiful sunlight that plays on the variegated redrock cliffs and canyons that crowd the vistas in every direction. Exchanging a few winterbound days in your home for a few days in this spectacular landscape should be first on your list of New Year's resolutions. It may be the most important decision you make all year.

[Disclaimer: I am a plant paleontologist/evolutionary biologist by choice and by training, and have absolutely no ties to creationism, intelligent design, the Park Service, nor any business in Moab, Utah.]

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