Anza-Borrego Desert State Park
Paleontology
 
           Photo by Ernie Cowan, Anza-Borrego Photography Institute

                                               
                                                                                
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FOSSIL TREASURES                             Presented by the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park Paleontology Society
Epilogue from Fossil Treasures
Making of "Fossil Treasures of the Anza-Borrego Desert"
Paleolandscapes
 
                                                             

 

 

Epilogue to Fossil Treasures of the Anza-Borrego Desert

By Lowell Lindsay and George T. Jefferson

 

Let us reflect carefully on the lessons to be learned from this fascinating time and place,

as the fate of our own species may very well depend upon how deeply we understand them.

Jacques Gauthier, Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History

 

At the beginning of this book, Jacques Gauthier offers us a lofty yet humbling reflection on the role of paleontology in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. We set out at the dawn of this decade to compile and portray a story, which began some seven million years earlier, and ended a few hundred thousand years ago. This desert window on the distant past and those of other sites in southern California, such as Rancho La Brea, bring this story up to the end of the Ice Ages and the appearance of humans in the Americas. Gauthier, and many other scientists, now think that the biosphere is “faced with the most daunting environmental challenges” since the last mass extinctions of the terminal Pleistocene. A paramount task of paleontology is to laboriously and exactingly unearth the fossil record, one tooth and one animal track at a time. Such evidence of prehistory is essential to research and is the basis of conclusions that will help us, as stewards of our environment, to make the best decisions for the future health of the planet.  Fossil Treasures of the Anza-Borrego Desert is the story of this paleontologic work, performed by hundreds of volunteers and dozens of professional researchers over the last 150 years. It presents the results of this initial phase of discovery and analysis, paves the way for future paleontologic studies, and reveals past patterns of biotic and environmental change crucial to understanding our own impacts on the global ecosystem.

However there is another, possibly more engaging reason to pursue distant prehistory. On the surface, paleontology may seem to have little impact or relevance to our modern digital culture. But we must realize that inherent in the human spirit is a deep and profound curiosity about our past and a compulsive longing to understand our biological origins. In some ways paleontology, although a foggy view into deep time, satisfies these basic needs. And it does so on the same human experiential level as a Bach fugue or a Monet water lily. Why do paleontology? The remains of ancient life help us understand our place in time and space, and allow us to touch the past.

For more of the stories of the last 7 million years,  see "Fossil Treasures of the Anza Borrego Desert", George T  Jefferson and Lowell Lindsay, editors, Sunbelt Publishing, San Diego California, 2006.

 

Making of "Fossil Treasures"

What goes into the making of a 390 plus page book covering a span of over 7 million years?
In this instance, it took the talent of 26 authors and contributors led by experienced paleontologist and author, George T. Jefferson.

Coming Soon: The making of Fossil Treasures of the Anza-Borrego Desert.
The Art of the Paleolandscapes

The landscapes from 7 million years ago come alive under the brush of artist John Francis.

Coming Soon: how were the paleolandscapes conceived and developed. And what does this land look like today.
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