Corral Bluffs OTR Field Trip
Colorado Springs, CO 80831
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Corral Bluffs – Rise of the Mammals Fossil Site, Colorado Springs
Please join us for a tour of one of the premier post-Cretaceous fossil sites in the world and hear about the rise of the mammals in the wake of the asteroid impact that killed all non-avian dinosaurs.
In 2016, a team from the Denver Museum of Nature & Science (DMNS) led by Drs. Tyler Lyson and Ian Miller made an extraordinary discovery of fossils in rocks that date to immediately after Mesozoic Era, just to the east of Colorado Springs, CO. These fossils reveal in striking detail how the world and life recovered after the catastrophic asteroid impact that wiped out the dinosaurs 66 million years ago. Described in a Science Magazine in Nov. 2019, the unprecedented find – thousands of exceptionally preserved animal and plant fossils from the critical first million years after the catastrophe – shines a revelatory light on how life emerged from Earth’s darkest hour. In particular, this set of fossil-bearing outcrops in the Denver Basin adds powerful evidence to the idea that the recovery and evolution of plants and animals were intricately linked after the asteroid impact. Combining a remarkable fossil plant record with the discovery of the fossil mammals has allowed the team to link millennia-long warming spells to global events, including massive amounts of volcanism on the Indian subcontinent. These events may have shaped the ecosystems half a world away.
The area, called Corral Bluffs, can only be accessed through organized tours of the site. Unsupervised public access is restricted. We are fortunate to be able to join DMNS curators Tyler, Ian, and Dr. James Hagadorn, one of the key collaborators on the project, as they lead a field trip to the outcrops that yielded the fossils that were the basis of this new discovery. We will also be joined by Dr. Bob Raynolds and Dr. Ken Weissenburger. We will explain how the discovery was made, what we learned from the fossils, and why all these fossils exist in this location.
About the trip:
Participants will meet at the Loaf N Jug gas station at 6857 Space Village Ave. (at Peterson Road and Highways 24 and 94) at 10:00 am. There are no facilities out at the fossil site, so this is the last chance to use a restroom and stock up on snacks and drinks. We will travel together from the gas station to the trailhead where our guided hike will begin. The last 1-2 miles of the drive to the trailhead is on a dirt road; high clearance vehicles are not required but are recommended.
This trip will take place entirely in the Corral Bluffs Open Space park. From the trailhead, we will hike on and off trail on unconsolidated dirt, sand and gravel. Vegetation is sparse and we may encounter rattlesnakes during this time of year. To reach some of the research sites may require scrambling along outcrops and across scree slopes. Everybody is required to wear hiking boots and we recommend bringing hiking poles, food and water, and sun protection as there will be plenty of sun exposure in the park.
Lunch will be held in the field and we expect to be back at the trailhead by 3-4 pm.