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Fwd: Endangered Las Vegas Area Paleo Site

Sorry about the truncation earlier. Here's the message again, hopefully in plain
text and readable to all. Sorry about that earlier.
Condor Biologist
California Condor Reintroduction Project
Peregrine Fund
Marble Canyon, Az.


Nationally-based Las Vegas builders are aching to get their hands (and
bulldozers) on this land, even though there is still enough usable land nearby,
and are petitioning the BLM to set aside this land for development. Unless a
large number of people petition for the preservation of this area soon, it will
be covered by houses in no time flat. (I can see it now--"Gee, look at this neat
mammoth I found when we dug our pool?")
     The following information sheet should give you plenty of reasons to go on
the web to http://www.tulespringslv.com. The web site is well done and it is 
simple to sign the petition. And, since this is concerns federal lands, it makes
no difference where you live. I would even hope you would send a request to all
your friends to sign the petition, too. I hate to think how many houses could be
built on top of all these important fossil remains by the greedy builders in Las
Vegas if something isn't done to save them.

Here's the information sheet:
Significance of Fossils from the Las Vegas Formation
By Eric Scott, San Bernardino County Museum as presented to Senator Reid

o     The fossils from the Las Vegas Formation in the Upper Las Vegas Wash
comprise the single largest open-site assemblage of animals from the end of the
Pleistocene Epoch - the âIce Agesâ - anywhere in the Mojave Desert and the
southern Great Basin.
o     The fossils from the Las Vegas Formation also comprise one of the largest
and most significant late Pleistocene paleontological sites anywhere in the
American southwest.
o     The fossil assemblage from the Las Vegas Formation includes relatively
complete remains of extinct animals such as mammoths, ground sloths (2 species),
camels, horses (3 species), bison, and giant North American lion.  These rare
fossils are not preserved in this abundance or diversity from any other fossil
sites in the Mojave Desert or the southern Great Basin.
o     The fossils assemblage from the Las Vegas Formation also includes remains
of small animals including rabbits, rodents, birds, reptiles, and amphibians. 
The potential provided by these microfossils - the ability to focus on
paleoenvironments in extremely focused regions through tightly-defined periods 
geologic time - remains largely untapped, because prior to the San Bernardino
County Museum's concentration on these fossils in the 1990s, their extent and
potential significance was largely unrecognized.
o     Although fossils from the Las Vegas Formation are abundant, paleontologic
studies of this amazing assemblage are still in the early stages.  Previous work
has focused primarily on the potential archaeological (= human) component of the
region, and the significance of the fossils in their own right has not been 
o     The preservation of the fossils is frequently excellent, enabling precise
identifications and the advancement of studies regarding how these ancient
animals looked, acted, and interacted.
o     The excellent preservation of many fossils from the Las Vegas Formation
also permits many cutting-edge scientific analytical techniques to be used on 
fossils.  These techniques potentially include (but are not limited to)
radiometric dating, DNA analysis, and isotope studies.
o     The widespread exposures of the Las Vegas Formation in the Upper Las Vegas
Wash span a critical period of geologic history - from nearly two hundred
thousand years ago until approximately seven thousand years ago.  No other
abundantly fossiliferous late Ice Age formation encompasses such an impressive
and important span of geologic time.
o     However, this important timespan is not preserved in any one locale. 
Rather, it is spread out throughout the entirety of the Upper Las Vegas Wash,
which dictates that the entire wash needs to be conserved so that the full
potential of the resources and their significance can be retained.
o     The time period covered by the Las Vegas Formation is critical because it
tracks multiple global and regional cooling and warming periods at the end of 
Pleistocene Epoch.  Included in this time span is the terminal Ice Age warming
event, during which most of the large Ice Age mammals - mammoths, ground sloths,
camels, horses, bison, and their contemporaries - went extinct.  No other
fossil-bearing site in the American southwest tracks this critical time period.
o     The fossil-bearing outcrops in the Upper Las Vegas Wash represent the very
last opportunity to study these amazing fossils, their ancient environments, and
their prehistory.  The entire Las Vegas Valley was once a vast exposure of the
Las Vegas Formation, replete with fossils - but the growth of the City of Las
Vegas and its environs has effectively buried these fossils in perpetuity.  Only
in the Upper Las Vegas Wash are the fossils and their context still preserved 
o     Although studies of the Las Vegas Formation have established that humans
and extinct Ice Age animals did not coexist in this region at the end of the Ice
Ages, there is nevertheless a strong archaeological component in the youngest
sediments of this formation.  In fact, the separate relationship of the fossils
and the human-made artifacts is important to preserve for future students of
prehistory, as this âclose but not touchingâ relationship is not preserved 
other sites in the American southwest.
o     In summary, the Las Vegas Formation in the Upper Las Vegas Wash offers an
absolutely unique confluence of geologic forces enabling an unprecedented and
unparalleled opportunity for study of prehistory.