Wheeler High School Fossil Beds
~ Wheeler High School, Fossil, Oregon * (541) 763-4146 ~
In the town of Fossil Oregon one can easily collect fossils for a mere $5 entrance fee (donation based on honor system in a drop-box). The fossil beds are located behind the Wheeler High School and is a great place to learn the history, geology, fossils, and recreation of the town. The fossil beds are a thinly-bedded outcrop of shale on the hill behind the school that represents the bed of a shallow lake that once sat there over 33 million hears ago during the Oligoene boasting a temperate mild and wet climate. Most of the fossils at this location are primarily leaves and branches of deciduous trees that grew along the adjacent stream banks and wetlands. Some of the more common trees are oak, ash, maple, sycamore, alder, and rose. There was a metasequoia that dropped its needs into the lake every fall and can be found here. There have been fossils of salamanders and fish found nearby.
A information board with instructions about digging for fossils and a place to pay for impact on the site, use of tools, etc. The Fossil Beds are owned by the Fossil School District – all fees and donations help pay for unfunded and under funded programs such as Sports, Music, Arts, and After School Reading. They ask for a $5 donated entrance fee based on the honor system.
“Here in the City of Fossil lies an abundance of fossil plant deposits, ranging in age from one million to 32 million years ago. These fossils are part of the “Bridge Creek Flora” the general scientific term given to fossilized plant deposits found in the John Day River basin of north central Oregon – an area that encompasses presentday Fossil to Mitchell to the John Day Valley. Many of these remnants of fossilized flora are distant relatives of similar species found today in regions of eastern Europe and Asia. Preserved under cataclysmic events, these delicate fossilized leaves, ferns, fruits, stems, and seeds reflect Earth’s passages and give scientists clues about ancient ecosystems.”
“Alnus newberry – one of the most common plant fossils found here, small alder trees were found at the edges of ancient lake basins”.
“Crataegus merriamiii – Small deciduous trees distantly related to present day hawthor trees found in eastern Europe and Asia.”
“An ancient species, a small group of closely related evergreen metasequoias were recently discovered in an isolated range of present day China.”
“Fraxinus species – Ancient ash trees were much smaller than today’s species. Scientists say they grew abundantly along prehistoric lakesides.”
“Polypodium – Rare single specimens have been found here. distant relatives to today’s woodland ferns.”
“Juglandiphyllites cryptatus – Walnut trees were once prolific in this region although the discovery of well preserved leaves and fruits is still a rare occurence.”
“Fossilized fruit and fruit capsules are rare among the Bridge Creek Flora and this unknown tree or shrub species is long extinct.”
“Rhus lequereuxii – somewhat similar to present day sumac found across North America, ancient specimens included both deciduous and evergreen trees and shrubs”.
“Pinus johndayensis – Only one type of ancient pine has been discovered in the Fossil locale; hece the species has been named for the John Day River basin.”
Unknown Monocot Species
“Simple monocotledon leaf composites of a yet-unknown ancient plant species.”
“Quercus consimilis – the leaes of prehistoric oaks – both deciduous and evergreen species – were not lobbed. Fossilized acorns have not yet been discovered here.”
Unknown Dicot Species
“An unknown species with complex leaves perhaps related to ancient sumacs.”
“Tilia fossilensis – a concentration of fossilized ancient basswood trees also referred to as linden was found only in a single strata at these fossil beds.”
Rated: 4 of 5 stars. ~ Review by Leaf McGowan/Thomas Baurley, Technogypsie Productions ~
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