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This intermittent lake was just what was needed to collect and preserve the millions of leaves and insects that can still be found at Florissant — some of which we were about to find ourselves.


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Having a good idea how the Florissant fossil beds formed, we continued to Florissant Fossil Quarry to collect some specimens. We spent about two hours splitting the paper shale using razor blades and knives looking for leaves and insects. Most of us also found the fresh water snail Planorbis. Notably some Beech leaves had insect damage.

There was a lot of excitement by everyone as they collected and identified their specimens — some for the very first time. It was evident from this part of the workshop that hands-on activities are the most engaging and fun for teachers. It truly helps with the realization of just how amazing the fossil record is, particularly at Florissant. We returned to the Monument and convened in the library for teacher lessons. Dena lectured on the geologic history of Earth, highlighting for teachers aspects that middle school students are likely to understand.

Erin gave us the task of recording the ratio of smooth to serrated edges to estimate annual average rainfall. We learned the smoother the leaves are on average, the warmer the climate.

Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument

Similarly, measuring the length and width of leaf fossils and calculating surface area allowed us to estimate annual average rainfall. In this scenario, the larger the average leaf surface area, the wetter the climate. The lesson then entailed comparing data from a specific locality to see how the climate has changed over time, and then comparing to other localities to see differences between those data sets as well.

For our final day of the workshop we heard another lecture, discussed teacher lessons and gave feedback. Erin M. We heard firsthand how the lessons worked and discussed ways to implement those lessons in our own curriculum back home. Opportunities like this to network and learn from colleagues are profoundly valuable — not just as a source for resources and ideas, but also motivation and inspiration. Dena presented on insect ecology from Florissant and the Green River Formation in Colorado, showing numerous pictures of the amazing insects she is researching.

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She explained that she works at very different spatial and temporal scales in her research on insect biodiversity—conducting both in depth field-based research at targeted localities and large-scale, literature-based research across multiple geologic time intervals. She is also conducting studies in modern ecosystems and in the lab in order to learn more about the specifics of plant-insect interactions and processes of fossilization.

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One of her conclusions was very poignant. She reported that with higher average annual temperatures, there was more insect damage to the leaves. She compared Florissant to Green River, which is about 13 million years older. As the world warms, we can expect to see an increase in insect damage to plants…with serious consequences for forests and essential food crops. As we reluctantly packed our identified specimens and teacher resources away and prepared to depart for home, we spent our final time together having a nice picnic on the monument grounds. We were joined by Park Director Dr.

We talked about how each of us were going to take what we learned back home and share it with our colleagues — and for many of us, our students. We are grateful to Dr. Smith, Dr. Aaron has already started to develop a template for lesson plans for teachers in Oregon to teach geologic history aimed at NGSS Next Generation Science Standards benchmarks.

He is going to use Dr. He wants to see if his students can make a correlation with the fossil leaves and the climate they infer from a nearby locality that Dr. Suzanne plans to use the information gleaned from this trip to create an educational exhibit for paleontological society outreach. Lastly, the field course provided materials will be correlated to Texas teaching standards and disseminated to Texas teachers for classroom use.

Even Walt Disney Visited Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument

Meyer and Dena M. Our ride! Would you recognize a lahar if you saw one? This has everything… sedimentary, igneous and metamorphic rocks. The middle shale unit 2nd generation lake of the Florissant Formation Lake Florissant flourished and teemed with life during this comparatively quiet period in its history. The Big Stump. Meyer, and George E. Development of an integrated paleontological database and Web site of Florissant collections, taxonomy, and publications.

Herbert W.

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Meyer, Matthew S. Wasson, and Brent J.

Fossil flora and stratigraphy of the Florissant Formation, Colorado. Kirk R. Johnson and Emmett Evanoff. Emmett Evanoff, William C. McIntosh, and Paul C. Leopold and Scott T.

Preserving a Quiet Place, and Our Earthly Roots – Rocky Mountain Land Library

Wingate deceased and D. Update on the Megafossil Flora of Florissant, Colorado. Steven R. Kathryn M. Box Florissant , CO Explore This Park. Info Alerts Maps Calendar Reserve. Alerts In Effect Dismiss. Selected Publications. Recent Publications. Smith 1. History of paleontology at the Florissant fossil beds, Colorado Steven W.

Meyer 2. Harding 3.


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  7. Higher taxa as paleoecological and paleoclimatic indicators: A search for the modern analog of the Florissant fossil flora Brad Boyle, Herbert W. Meyer, Brian Enquist, and Silvia Salas 4. Phytogeography of the late Eocene Florissant flora reconsidered Estella B. Meyer 5. Prothero 6. Smith 7. An outline morphometric approach to identifying fossil spiders: A preliminary examination from the Florissant Formation April Kinchloe Roberts, Dena M.