The Chinle Formation is characterized by colorful bands of sedimentary rock. This formation was deposited between 227 and 205 million years ago by a northwest flowing river system. Based on rock type, it is divided into five members: Mesa Redondo, Blue Mesa, Sonsela, Petrified Forest, and Owl Rock. These members reveal a transition from moist to arid environments.
Petrified Wood are like precious gems shining in the sun, colorful specimens from small shards to massive trunks, are strewn across the landscape. In some areas of the park, fossilized trunks are visible. In other areas they remain hidden, still buried under layers of soil and rock. As the trees died or were knocked down by wind or water, many were carried down-stream and buried by layers of sediment. The logs soaked up groundwater and silica from volcanic ash and over time crystallized into quartz. Different minerals created the rainbow of colors seen in many pieces.
Ancient Arizona - it's hot, humid, lush, green. This desert grassland used to be a rain forest. During the Triassic Period, 225 million years ago, this area was a tropical landscape with abundant vegetation - ferns, horsetails, and cycads. Early dinosaurs and reptiles roamed; fish, clams, snails, and crayfish moved through rivers; and giant, 180-foot conifers reached to the skies.
Over the past 200 million years continents moved, regions uplifted, climate changed, and the river system, along with its plants and animals, was buried by layers of sediment. Wind and water have continually molded, sculpted, and peeled back these layers, giving us a glimpse of the once tropical land we know today as Arizona.
Village on the Rio Puerco is a prehistoric settlement built of shaped sandstone blocks by ancestral Puebloan people. It was inhabited between A.D. 1250 and 1380. At its peak the pueblo had over 100 rooms, with a possible population of 200 people. During the village's occupation, fields of corn, beans and squash sustained by the summer rains would have filled the river's floodplain.
Puerco Pueblo was not isolated in space or time. The river provided a travel corridor across the grasslands of the Colorado Plateau. Large and small communities existed up and down the Rio Puerco and Little Colorado River. Puerco Pueblo would have been visited by travelers and traders from far outside the ancestral Puebloan cultural area who brought different types of pottery and goods, as well as new ideas to the residents of Puerco. Researchers study these types of interactions through the wide variety of artifacts and rock art found in or near the village.
Archeologists have excavated only about a third of the site, some of which has been backfilled to preserve the fragile remnants of walls and floor features.
Route 66 went through the park at one time, but now the only remnant of its existence is a 1932 Studebaker that sits where Route 66 once cut through the park. Stretching from Chicago to Los Angeles, Route 66 was a destination in itself. Established in 1926, it was one of the original highways in the US Highway System. People hit the road looking for a new life or to just get away from it all. Gas was cheap and magical roadside attractions beckoned you to "get your kicks on Route 66."
Jim remembers family vacations with his family driving from Cleveland, Ohio to Los Angeles to visit family. They had two weeks to drive from one end of the US to the other, but made time to visit the national parks along the way. Their station wagon had no air conditioning and he recalls driving through the desert at night with the windows up - yikes.
Placerias hesternus was a dicynodont therapsid. Therapsids were large reptiles that possessed many mammalian characteristics including a "cheek" bone, enlarged canine teeth, and a specialized attachment of the skull to the spine. This massive plant eater was up to 9 feet long and might have weighed as much as two tons. Like other dicynodonts, Placerias had a short neck, barrel shaped body, small tail, and large tusk like bones protruding from its upper jaw. The beak like jaws helped to pull up and tear tough plants and roots. A large number of Placeria fossils were found in a single quarry near the town of St. Johns, just southeast of the park.
|Shuvo's unexpected reptile|
|Kirkpatrick's post reptile|
Quote for the Day: In the world there is nothing more submissive and weak than water. Yet for attacking that which is hard and strong nothing can surpass it. ~~ Lao Tzu