Paleontology

Maggie Mullen

Thousands of years ago in northern Wyoming, countless animals fell to their death at the bottom of an 85-foot cave. Natural Trap Cave has long been closed to recreation, but scientists have spent the last four summers unearthing the remains of many now-extinct animals. Excavations will soon come to an end.

 

Melodie Edwards / Wyoming Public Radio

The Washakie Museum and Cultural Center in Worland is hosting a symposium exploring some of the big questions in Wyoming's paleontology and archaeology right now.

Julie Meachen

Over a thousand fossils collected from the bottom of the 82-foot-deep Natural Trap Cave in northern Wyoming will soon be stored at the University of Wyoming. The collection will likely triple the size of the university’s Pleistocene collection.

Julie Meachen is one of the lead scientists on the project and has spent her last two summers excavating the cave. She said 20,000 years ago, a huge diversity of animals fell into the cavern and were trapped. She says that has allowed scientists a unique opportunity to document the many species of that era.

thebeardedladyproject.com

A University of Wyoming scientist has created a documentary to celebrate women in paleontology.

Ellen Currano said she and a friend, filmmaker Lexi Jameison Marsh, conceived of the project after a hard day in their separate fields. Both women had felt like outsiders who were not taken as seriously as their male colleagues.

Rick Edwards (AMNH)

Wyoming looked pretty different 50 million years ago. It was tropical, with lots of trees and wet, humid conditions. Scientists know this because of the many fossils found from this time period in the Green River Formation in Southwest Wyoming.

Chris Amerman

A paleontology field school in the Bighorn Basin found an incredibly well-preserved fossil of an ancient anteater-like mammal this summer. The fossil is a Palaeanodon, a ground-dwelling insect eater the size of a cat that lived about 53-million years ago. Colorado State University Field School Instructor Kim Nichols discovered the skeleton and says the fossil is a very rare find because so much of the animal’s skeleton was found. Such small creatures are hardly ever discovered intact.  Its excellent condition is also unusual, Nichols says.