Many kinds of fossils can be found on the BLM-managed public lands in Oregon and Washington, some world-class in scientific importance. Fossils are the remains and traces of once-living organisms, preserved in rocks of the Earth's crust. BLM managed lands in Oregon have fossil resources ranging from near-shore Oligocene marine species along the margins of the Willamette Valley to the well-preserved, remarkably complete fossil record of plants and animals within the heavily eroded volcanic deposits of the scenic John Day River basin.
Fossil deposits in eastern Oregon, in particular, represent a time when primitive mammals began to change and adapt to new environments and show a slow transition into faunas that we recognize today. Researchers from institutions such as the University of Oregon, the University of California-Berkeley, University of Nebraska, University of Florida, and South Dakota School of Mines and Technology conduct studies on public lands to study ecological and evolutionary changes of the past 50 million years.
Two areas on public lands have been designated Areas of Critical Environmental Concern to protect paleontological resources: Logan Butte and Fossil Lake.
North America's Earliest Beaver Discovered in Oregon
A new fossil find represents the earliest record of living beavers (Castor) in North America. A pair of teeth was found on Bureau of Land Management land near Dayville, Oregon. These teeth come from the Rattlesnake Formation and are between 7 and 7.3 million years old.
The specimens will be going on display in the Thomas Condon Paleontology Center, at John Day Fossil Beds National Monument. The new find is described in an article appearing in the current issue of the Journal of Paleontology.
- BLM Beaver Fossil Page
- Beaver Discovery Press Release (PDF)
- Journal of Paleontology
- John Day Fossil Beds