Fossils Abound Near Las Cruces

Monday, September 6, 2010 - 10:29am

ROBLEDO MOUNTAINS, NM - Trackways National Monument just north of Las Cruces might not look like much to the untrained eye, but to paleontologists it's invaluable.

The site has produced some of the best fossils in the world.

A 250 million year old conifer fossil revealed in the Robledo Mountains outside Las Cruces has experts flocking to the site.  One paleontologist says the area contains some of the best examples of Paleozoic era plants and animals.

"These different types of fossils are the best preserved and the most significant of their kind in the world."

Recent discoveries eventually led to the designation of the 5,200 acre monument last year...

"It's a concentrated fossil deposit that not only has trackways, but has petrified wood, fossil leaves, marine fossils, and all of these things represent a window to the past."

It's one of the few places on earth where evidence of the Permion period is exposed. 

The creatures leaving these tracks in the mud almost 300 million years ago occupied a much different version of New Mexico. 

But the monument is still wild and undeveloped. 

Many fossils have been excavated but none have been left behind for public viewing. 

To the casual visitor's eye, there isn't much to see here yet. 

For now, Trackways Monument is a priceless outdoors laboratory for scientists that might eventually be developed for public education with exhibits and discovery trails.

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