Assignment Earth, Environmental Journalism, Environmental Protection, National Monuments / 20.08.2010
At Trackways National Monument, experts have excavated the best examples of Paleozoic era plants and animals on the planet. “These different types of fossils are the best preserved and the most significant of their kind in the world,” said Jerry MacDonald of the New Mexico Museum of Natural History. MacDonald has made his life’s work searching for and excavating prehistoric fossils in the Robledo Mountains just outside Las Cruces, New Mexico. His discoveries, starting in the early 1980s helped to establish the area as the 5,200-acre Trackways National Monument in 2009. “It’s a concentrated fossil deposit that not only has track-ways but it has petrified wood, fossil leaves, marine fossils, he said And all of these things represent a window to the past.” This public land in the American Southwest desert is one of the few places on Earth where evidence of the Permian period is exposed. The creatures who left these tracks in the mud almost 300 million years ago occupy a much different version of New Mexico.