You are here: home   Issues   Possessing the Wild   Forgotten Fossils
Topic: Flora & Fauna     Department: Letters

Forgotten Fossils

Document Actions

On page 3 of the recent issue appear "snapshots" of four national park units' paleontological resources (HCN, 10/17/11, "A fossil-fueled survey"). Among those highlighted is the 2010 discovery of Barnum Brown's dinosaur dig sites in Big Bend National Park. After six years as chief ranger of that park (1977-'82), I was assigned to Buffalo National River in Arkansas as assistant superintendent. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that Barnum Brown had explored a Pleistocene bone deposit on private land near Buffalo River in 1903 and 1904.

According to Brown, among the thousands of bones deposited in this 20-foot fissure were those representing 37 genera and 51 species, of which 24 are considered extinct. Brown wrote that, "This 'ossuary' is probably richer in individual specimens than any so far discovered in North America." It included species from musk ox and saber-toothed tiger to bats, shrews and weasels.

When Buffalo National River was established in 1972, the park's boundary narrowly missed this important site -- a privately owned property that is contiguous with national river lands on two sides. Although the enabling legislation for the national river allows for "minor boundary changes," and landowners have from time to time expressed willingness to sell, government inertia or disinterest has precluded this important paleontological site from being included within Buffalo National River.

Jim Liles
Yellville, Arkansas

Email Newsletter

The West in your Inbox

Follow Us

Follow us on Facebook! Follow us on Twitter! Follow our RSS feeds!
  1. Rancher vs BLM: a 20-year standoff ends with tense roundup |
  2. Photos of a standoff | Armed militia members join a Nevada rancher to pro...
  3. After the standoff, what's next for Bundy and BLM? |
  4. Why homes are lost to wildfire | This Forest Service expert says it's as much a soc...
  5. The energy haves and have-nots | Will rooftop solar owners get off the grid — and...
  1. Why homes are lost to wildfire | This Forest Service expert says it's as much a soc...
  2. Photos of a standoff | Armed militia members join a Nevada rancher to pro...
  3. The energy haves and have-nots | Will rooftop solar owners get off the grid — and...
  4. Will the Colorado River reach the Gulf of California once more? | Photographs of last month's historic water pulses....
  5. Locals resist a Bakkenization of the Beartooths | South-central Montanans oppose new drilling, forew...
HCN Classifieds
Subscriber Alert
More from Flora & Fauna
My chickens lay their own Easter eggs
Backpacking with monster skeeters An Alaska encounter with the fiercest of the 176 mosquito species that roam the U.S.
Best place to see a crowd of grizzlies A few tourists get close to amazing numbers of bears catching salmon at Alaska's McNeil River Falls.
All Flora & Fauna
 
© 2014 High Country News, all rights reserved. | privacy policy | terms of use | powered by Plone