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EOCENE PLANTS FROM OF THE CLARNO FORMATION, OREGON

 

A thick lava flow of Eocene age covers much of Central Oregon.  Fortunately for paleontologists and fossil hunters the John Day River has worn through the lava to expose a 2,000-foot layer of volcanic ash and debris, exposing imprints of ginkgoes, fig, magnolias, walnuts, maples, and dawn redwood.  In other fossil beds of Oligocene age paleontologists have found the teeth and bones of wild dogs, false saber tooth cats, three-toed horses, rhinoceroses, and humpless camels.  Fortunately for me I was able to get permission to hunt in the Clarno Beds, while student volunteers pecked away at the rocks.  I couldn’t get into the John Day vertebrate beds while paleontologists were there, but I obtained a nice collection of horse and rhino teeth in trade from South Dakota.  The same disaster in Oregon during the Eocene and Oligocene had occurred in South Dakota’s Brule Formation, burying plants and animals alike in volcanic ash.  Included in the display of John Day leaf imprints in the lower right side is one of the leaf molds I discovered in the town of Fossil Oregon.

Note: To zoom in and out, click on the photo below: