Snowmass: A Record of Climate Change in the Rocky Mountains during the Ice Age

Saturday, January 14, 2017 - 7:30pm

Join the Paleontology Society for an evening lecture with Greg McDonald, PhD, a research associate at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. Greg will be speaking about “ Snowmass: A Record of Climate Change in the Rocky Mountains during the Ice Age.” This lecture is open to the public.

Meet in the Discovery Lab at the Visitor Center.

In 2010 construction workers enlarging a reservoir near Snowmass Village in the Rocky Mountains made an unexpected find.  During bulldozing tusks and bones of a mastodon were discovered.  Staff from the Denver Museum of Nature and Science was contacted and based on their assessment of the site realized that more than one mastodon was present and other animals were also preserved at the site.  Because of its high-altitude setting, the ecosystem represented by the assemblage had been subjected to changes in temperature and climate, both warmer and colder than today, over the last several hundred thousand years. Consequently the sediments preserve a nearly continuous record of environmental change from 140,000 to 55,000 years ago.  Of all the fossils recovered from the Snowmastodon site, the 35 mastodons are the stars of the show with a diversity of ages — from juveniles to adults.  The site also includes mammoths, giant bison and the first record of the Jefferson ground sloth in Colorado. Other, smaller fossilsincluding salamanders and rodents as well as plants ranging in size from logs to pollen and insects are also preserved and reveal a lot about the local environment and how it changed through time.