Cisco Mammal Quarry – Discovery Pool Update
The colorful, banded rocks of the Morrison Formation in eastern Utah are famous for spectacular dinosaurs, but there is much more to this ancient ecosystem and these same rocks hold secrets to the beginnings of our own branch of the Tree of Life.
The Cisco Mammal Quarry was discovered in 2015 by a team of paleontologists from the University of Louisville and the University of Oklahoma, and each season of excavation (supported in large part by the Canyonlands Natural History Association) has uncovered beautiful fossils of tiny creatures: mouse-sized early mammals, palm-sized lizards and flying reptiles, short-snouted crocodilians smaller than a house cat, and more.
The rock is hard and efforts are labor-intensive; the fossils are well preserved but jumbled in three dimensions, and can be difficult to recognize in the field.
Back at the lab, fossils are being freed from their rock through a combination of delicate needlework under magnification and high-tech 3D CT scanning, and we are only just beginning to understand these scientific treasures.
The project has served to train undergraduate and graduate students in field and lab methodology and has resulted in scientific publications of important specimens that shed light not only on surprising new creatures but the surprising features they possessed.
Future work at the Cisco Mammal Quarry will substantially improve our understanding of the ways our earliest ancestors explored their world, found food and avoided becoming food, and ultimately gave rise to the lineage leading to the amazing diversity of mammals alive today.
Dr. Brian M. Davis, Principal investigator in the Discovery Pool Project has published two papers on his research at the Cisco Mammal Quarry. For more in-depth information on his fascinating discoveries follow the links below.
Be sure to see Brian Davis present a free lecture, Tiny Fossils and the Big Picture: at the Moab Information Center Thursday, June 2. Corner of Center and Main.
MIC Lecture Series
Moab Information Center 2022 Lecture Series
Canyonlands Natural History Association (CNHA)
Thursday’s @ 5:00 p.m.
Date: May 26
Presenter: Walt Dabney
Title: Public Lands: Where, Why and How?
Join former National Park Superintendent Walt Dabney for answers to these questions and more: Where did our Public Lands come from? What was the effect of the Homestead Act and the Railroad Act? How were National Parks and Forests established? Why are these lands held “in common”, so important to us today?
Past and current public lands issues are addressed in this hour-long presentation. Questions and discussion time to follow.
Date: June 2
Presenter: Brian Davis
Title: Tiny Fossils and the Big Picture: Mammals from the Age of Dinosaurs
Every kid knows that dinosaurs are the biggest, fiercest, and most inspiring creatures to ever have walked the Earth, but they are only part of the story.
The ancient world was a diverse and vibrant place, and dinosaurs lived alongside a cast that included the earliest mammals.
Come and learn what our ancestors were like and what their tiny fossils reveal about their lives: while most survived by scurrying between the feet of dinosaurs, others swam, glided, and even had dinosaurs for lunch! (Discovery Pool)
Date: June 16
Presenter: Robert Anderson
Title: Founding Fathers: The Creation of Canyonlands National Park
The vision of Charlie Steen, Bates Wilson and Stewart Udall paved the way for the creation of Canyonlands National Park.
Charlie Steen represents the Atomic Energy Commission who provided access to the White Rim Sandstone via the White Rim Road.
Bates Wilson represents the vision of having a National Park that would protect the confluence.
Stewart Udall provided the political support needed in order to push the idea of a National Park through Congress. Join Park Ranger, Robert Anderson, as he discusses each of these men and their vision for Canyonlands National Park.
Date: June 23
Presenter: Mallory Sandoval Lambert
Title: Ecological Interactions between Mountain Goats and American Pikas
The southern limit of the natural range of mountain goats is in Idaho, whereas American pikas occur naturally as far south as New Mexico. However, the mountain goat range has been extended southwards with the establishment of translocated subpopulations in Utah. These mountain goats now share a habitat with pikas, providing an opportunity to study potential ecological interactions between these two alpine specialists.
Join Mallory Sandoval Lambert as she talks about how her research is exploring this previously unstudied system through field-based experimentation, with a focus on the La Sal Mountains in southern Utah. (Discovery Pool)
Special Wednesday Lecture May 11, 5:00 p.m.! Join author and illustrator, Lisa Horstman, for an evening of intrigue and imagination as she tells us the story of developing the characters in her book “Torrey in the Land of Arches”. Lisa is in town working on a companion book for Canyonlands. Stay tuned….
Lisa will also be at Arches for a book signing on May 11 from 2:00 – 4:00 p.m. Remember you will need a timed entry ticket to get to the visitor center at Arches.
Electronic Payment Kiosk at Horsethief Campground
The BLM Moab Field Office recently installed a remote automated kiosk at the Horsethief Campground. The machine accepts electronic payment through a debit or credit card.
Once campers find a vacant campsite, they pay the fee and the machine will print out two tickets, one goes on the campsite post and the other should be placed on the dashboard of their vehicle.
This is a part of a national pilot project to support electronic payment options for public lands visitors. Visitors will still be able to use the yellow fee envelopes and metal fee tube to pay with cash or check if they prefer.
Recreation fees are an investment in outdoor recreation. 100% of the funds collected are reinvested in the facilities and services that visitors enjoy, use, and value. Your fees help support campground management and recreation opportunities within the Moab Field Office.
Pack Creek Fire Restoration Work Day
During the Pack Creek fire, individuals from the community and the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance (SUWA) raised $6,000 for rehabilitation projects that could be useful in the Pack Creek fire scar.
The Manti-La Sal National Forest South Zone hydrology program reached out with a proposal to install steel nets in the heavily incised channels of Pack Creek. These nets have been used on fires in California and other countries and have been proven to be successful.
These nets should act as a grade-stabilization or aggradation structure in which large woody debris will be captured by the net. Then, as those large debris form a structure and stabilize, finer sediments will fill in behind the net to aggradate or lessen the slope upstream.
On April 6, 2022, team members of the Manti-La Sal South Zone Hydrology and Recreation crews, with the help of SUWA and local volunteers, installed two of these nets with the money raised by locals.
One of these structures was placed just downstream of a section of road that is vulnerable to collapse from the 2021 debris flows; with adequate future debris flows, this net could aggradate sediment upstream and raise the channel profile to provide more stability to the bank and associated road issues.
Daniel Lay did a longitudinal survey of the reach in which the nets were installed and determined the slope to be approximately 4.7%. Measurements of the longitudinal profile taken before the debris flows and associated vertical incision show that this type of channel should be approximately a 2-3% slope; these nets should be a good test-piece to determine if they are effective in bringing this system back to its historic dimensions.
If successful, future proposals could focus on installing more grade-stabilization structures to restore watershed functionality.
This is an excerpt from the Canyonlands Natural History Association’s Member Newsletter. To find out more about CNHA and how to get your own copy delivered, visit the Canyonlands Natural History Association website.