Wyoming's Prehistoric Past
To view captions for these pictures, see bottom of page.
Across Wyoming country is a geologic wonderland, a place where nature plays
unique tricks. Consider the Stromatolites, the earth's oldest life forms.
This Precambrian algae, once formed beside a tropical sea, is now on fossilized
display encased in the outcrops of gneiss and schist that
make up the 12,000-foot peaks of the Snowy Range. Uplifted formations in
the desert west of Rawlins are among the most ancient rocks exposed on the
planet. The Bear River at Evanston is the world's longest river that doesn't
flow into any ocean.
Travelers crossing the 400-mile Tracks corridor experience the transition from the Great Plains to Rocky Mountains to High Deserts. The Laramie Range, between Cheyenne and Laramie, is the eroded remnant of a mountain system millions of years older than even the Rockies. The Vedauwoo recreation area is the ice and wind sculpted core of the old peaks.
"Wide Open Spaces" takes on new meaning in south central Wyoming's Red Desert, the largest unfenced region in the lower 48 states. North of the Desert is the Killpecker Dune Field, the largest region of moving sand dunes in North America. Boar's Tusk, the exposed neck of an ancient volcano, stands tall at the southwestern edge of the dunes. The world's most extensive beds of Trona, or Soda Ash, lay to the west of Green River.
Wyoming's southwestern desert country was once a vast inland sea. Lake Gosiute was the home of a great variety of fish, amphibians, birds reptiles and mammals that are now perfectly fossilized in the shale layers of the ancient sea bed. Fossil Butte National Monument west of Kemmerer explores and presents the flora and fauna of this long gone semi-tropical wonderland.
Wyoming is dinosaur country, boasting the first major find of dinosaur fossils at Como Bluff near Medicine Bow. Como Bluff bone quarries supplied dinosaur displays to most of the worlds museums during the late 1800s. New discoveries are being made every year. Visitors can experience Wyoming's Jurassic Park at the University of Wyoming Geology Museum in Laramie, the Wyoming State Museum in Cheyenne and at Western Wyoming Community College in Rock Springs.
All photos this page by Randy Wagner
1 - T-Rex at Western Wyoming Community College
2 - Turtle fossil from Fossil Butte
3 - Lake Marie in the Snowy Range
4.- Fossil Butte National Monument
5 - Vedauwoo area near I-80 summit
6 - Triceratops at Western Wyo Community College
7 - Green River Palisades
8 - Como Bluff
9 - Boar's Tusk in Sweetwater County
10 - Archaeological dig near Pine Bluffs