Como Bluff is a long ridge extending east-west, located between the towns of Rock River and Medicine Bow, Wyoming. The ridge is an anticline, formed as a result of compressional geological folding. Three geological formations, the Sundance, the Morrison, and the Cloverly Formations, containing fossil remains from the Late Jurassic of the Mesozoic Era are exposed. Nineteenth century paleontologists discovered many well-preserved specimens of dinosaurs, as well as mammals, turtles, crocodilians, and fish from the Morrison Formation. Because of this, Como Bluff is considered to be one of the major sites for the early discovery of dinosaur remains. Among the species discovered is the only known specimen of Coelurus. Significant discoveries were made in 22 different areas scattered along the entire length of the ridge. It is included on the National Register of Historic Places as well as the National Natural Landmark list.
Multicolored (variegated) beds of the Morrison Formation at Como Bluff, Wyoming. Many historical dinosaur sites are located along the flanks of the bluff. The Sundance Formation is visible as the reddish beds at the base of the bluff.
|Location||taken near Aurora Lake (a.k.a. Como Lake).|
|Nearest city||Rock River-Medicine Bow|
|NRHP reference #||73001925|
|Added to NRHP||January 18, 1973|
The discovery of dinosaurs at Como Bluff has been recounted numerous times, most notably by Schuchert and LeVene, Shur, Ostrom and McIntosh, and Jaffe. Most of the specimens were collected by men working for O.C. Marsh between 1877-1889, although some were collected by the Hubbel brothers for E.D. Cope between 1879-1880. The American Museum of Natural History excavated in 1897 -1898 , finding two partial skeletons of sauropods. A summary of the quarries and their contents is given below.
In later years, the American Museum of Natural History and Yale University jointly reopened Quarry 9, the Mammal Quarry, 1968-1970, finding only a few specimens. More recently, Robert Bakker has done some collecting there with a variety of groups.
AMNH Quarry 1
AMNH Quarry 2
AMNH localities unknown (some could be from Quarry 1 or 2)
[Fredrick] Brown's Quarry A
Brown's Quarry B
Brown's Quarry C
Brown's Quarry D
Brown's Quarry G
[Authur] Lakes Quarry 1A (Big Canyon Quarry)
[E.D.] Cope's Quarry 3
Cope's Quarry 4
Cope's Quarry 5
Cope's localities unknown (could be from Quarry 1, 2)
[Harlow] Reed's Quarry 1
Reed's Quarry 1 ½
Reed's Quarry 2
Reed's Quarry 3
Reed's Quarry 4
Reed's Quarry 5
Reed's Quarry 6
Reed's Quarry 7
Reed's Quarry 8
Reed's Quarry 9 (Mammal Quarry)
Reed's Quarry 10
Reed's Quarry 11
Reed's Quarry 12 (Robbers' Roost Quarry)
Reed's Quarry 13
Reed Quarry 14
Arthur Lakes (December 21, 1844 – November 21, 1917) was a notable geologist, artist, writer, teacher and minister. He captured much of his geological and palaeontological field work in sketches and watercolours. Lakes is credited with successfully deciphering much of the geology of Colorado and, as an economic geologist, guiding mineral exploration which was so important to the State.He was a part-time professor at what later became the Colorado School of Mines. Having sent a fossilized vertebra specimen (from the Morrison Formation of Dakota, US) to Othniel Charles Marsh, in 1877, he was then employed by Marsh to seek other discoveries, in the so-called Bone Wars. He went on to unearth fossilized remains of Stegosaurus, Apatosaurus, Camptosaurus and Allosaurus.
Although he was employed by Marsh, Lakes was visited by Marsh's Bone Wars opponent Edward Drinker Cope, while working at Como Bluff. Although it was the last thing he intended, Lakes was the cause of increased animosity between Cope and Marsh, by co-operating with both. Lakes made the original discovery of the fossils in the formation of the Dinosaur Ridge near Morrison, Colorado. Lakes also drilled several test oil wells in the Golden and Morrison area, however they were not successful producing wells.
During this time, he also worked as a teacher at what is now the Colorado School of Mines and as a clergyman. When he retired from fossil hunting, he went on to work for the U.S. Geological Survey. He edited a succession of geological and mining journals. His byline appears on over 800 newspaper and journal articles. Lakes and his two well-educated sons eventually went into business as mining engineers, relocating from Colorado to Ymir, British Columbia, in 1912. Arthur Lakes died there in 1917, still "tanned from the outdoors life he led."Bone Cabin Quarry
Bone Cabin Quarry was a dinosaur quarry that lay approximately fifty-five miles northwest of Laramie, Wyoming near historic Como Bluff. During the summer of 1897 Walter Granger, a paleontologist from the American Museum of Natural History, came upon a hillside littered with Jurassic period dinosaur bone fragments. Nearby was a sheepherder's cabin built entirely out of fossil bones, hence the name "Bone Cabin Quarry." After Granger's discovery in late August 1897, the quarry was kept secret until the summer of 1898, when the manpower could be amassed to undertake a full-scale excavation. Bone Cabin Quarry was excavated from 1898 until 1905, when the productivity of specimens thinned. Some of the dinosaurs found at the Bone Cabin Quarry include Stegosaurus, Allosaurus and Apatosaurus. Gargoyleosaurus is also known from the Bone Cabin Quarry West locality.
From the Annual Field Report of the American Museum of Natural History, 1898:
On June 12th a rich strike was made in opening "Bone Cabin Quarry". This is where the larger part of the year's collection was secured. The work was arduous and additional help was needed. P. Kaisen was engaged at the end of June. The party stayed here until the close of the field season on October 1st.Bone Wars
The Bone Wars, also known as the Great Dinosaur Rush, was a period of intense and ruthlessly competitive fossil hunting and discovery during the Gilded Age of American history, marked by a heated rivalry between Edward Drinker Cope (of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia) and Othniel Charles Marsh (of the Peabody Museum of Natural History at Yale). Each of the two paleontologists used underhanded methods to try to outdo the other in the field, resorting to bribery, theft, and the destruction of bones. Each scientist also sought to ruin his rival's reputation and cut off his funding, using attacks in scientific publications.
Their search for fossils led them west to rich bone beds in Colorado, Nebraska, and Wyoming. From 1877 to 1892, both paleontologists used their wealth and influence to finance their own expeditions and to procure services and dinosaur bones from fossil hunters. By the end of the Bone Wars, both men had exhausted their funds in the pursuit of paleontological supremacy.
Cope and Marsh were financially and socially ruined by their attempts to outcompete and disgrace each other, but they made important contributions to science and the field of paleontology and provided substantial material for further work—both scientists left behind many unopened boxes of fossils after their deaths. The efforts of the two men led to more than 136 new species of dinosaurs being discovered and described. The products of the Bone Wars resulted in an increase in knowledge of prehistoric life, and sparked the public's interest in dinosaurs, leading to continued fossil excavation in North America in the decades to follow. Many historical books and fictional adaptations have been published about this period of intense fossil-hunting activity.Comobatrachus
Comobatrachus is a dubious genus of prehistoric frog erected by O. C. Marsh to house fragmentary remains recovered from Reed's Quarry 9 near Como Bluff Wyoming. Along with Eobatrachus it was among the earliest frog remains from the formation, although the two dubious genera were erected decades apart, with Comobatrachus being named second.Comodactylus
Comodactylus is a genus of "rhamphorhynchoid" pterosaur from the Kimmeridgian-Tithonian-age Upper Jurassic Morrison Formation of Wyoming, United States, named for a single wing metacarpal.In 1879 collector William Harlow Reed sent some fossil material he had dug up at Como Bluff in Quarry N° 9, or the "Mammal Quarry", to his employer Professor Othniel Charles Marsh at New Haven. Among it was the bone of a pterosaur, that was subsequently filed, stored and forgotten.
However, in 1981 Peter Galton named, based on this bone, the genus Comodactylus. The type species is Comodactylus ostromi. The genus name is derived from Como Bluff and Greek daktylos, "finger", referring to the wing finger typical of pterosaurs. The specific name honours John Ostrom.
The holotype is YPM 9150, consisting of an intact fourth metacarpal, 57.5 millimetres long. The metacarpal is quite robust with especially the proximal end, that touching the wrist bones, being very expanded. Such proportions are typical for basal pterosaurs, so Comodactylus was not a member of the, advanced, Pterodactyloidea. To what other pterosaur group it did belong has, however, proven difficult to determine, due to a lack of information. The metacarpal is the only known part of the animal. Kevin Padian in 1989 considered it a nomen dubium. David Unwin in 1993 suggested an affinity with Nesodactylus.
The wingspan has been estimated at 2.5 metres (8.2 ft), exceptionally large for a pterosaur not belonging to the Pterodactyloidea. Comodactylus was also the first pterosaur outside of that group, that was found in America.Dorsetochelys
Dorsetochelys is an extinct genus of turtle from the Early Cretaceous of southern England and northwestern Germany.Enneabatrachus
Enneabatrachus hechti is an extinct species of an extinct genus of prehistoric frog known from the late Jurassic Morrison Formation. Its remains have been recovered from stratigraphic zone 5. One specimen has been recovered from Quarry 9 of Como Bluff in Wyoming and another specimen was later reported from Dinosaur National Monument. A small discoglossid frog whose name means "nine frog" after the quarry in which it was discovered. The Como Bluff specimen was an ilium only a few millimeters long. E. hechti's live weight would have only been a few grams.Eobatrachus
Eobatrachus is a dubious genus of prehistoric frog erected by O. C. Marsh to house fragmentary remains recovered from Reed's Quarry 9 near Como Bluff Wyoming. Along with Comobatrachus it was among the earliest frog remains from the formation, although the two dubious genera were erected decades apart, with Eobatrachus being named first.Ermine Cowles Case
Ermine Cowles Case (1871–1953), invariably known as E.C. Case, was a prominent American paleontologist in the second generation that succeeded Othniel Charles Marsh and Edward Drinker Cope. A graduate of the University of Kansas, with a PhD from the University of Chicago (1896), Case became a paleontologist of international stature while working at the University of Michigan.
He was a Member of the American Philosophical Society (1931).
Case began by sorting out some of the taxonomic synonymies and other puzzles created by the "Bone Wars" of the two giants of the heroic age of dinosaur-hunting in the American West, in a series of three monographs dealing with the vertebrates of the Permian or Permo-Carboniferous of North America. Case then turned to his lifelong interest in filling in the fossil record of Permian and Carboniferous vertebrates from the 'Red Beds' of Texas, New Mexico, and Oklahoma. He also made extensive Jurassic collections at Como Bluff, Wyoming, in the Cretaceous deposits in Kansas, and Cenozoic formations of the Green River Basin and the Badlands of South Dakota. Among Case's prolific output several great monographs about Permo-Carboniferous vertebrates stand out: Revision of the Amphibia and Pisces of the Permian of North America (1911)), The Permo-Carboniferous Red Reds of North America and their Vertebrate Fauna (1915), The Environment of Vertebrate Life in the Late Paleozoic in North America, a paleographic study (1919) and Environment of Tetrapod Life in the Late Paleozoic of Regions Other than North America (1926). All were published by the Carnegie Institution, Washington DC.Case was a gifted teacher. The Ermine Cowles Case Collegiate Professor of Paleontology is an endowed chair at the University of Michigan, which conserves Case's extensive collections. The Ermine Cowles Case Memorial Lecture is given there annually.Eutretauranosuchus
Eutretauranosuchus is a genus of goniopholidid mesoeucrocodylian. It is known from several specimens collected from the Late Jurassic-age Morrison Formation, including fossils from Garden Park and Dry Mesa Quarry in Colorado and Como Bluff in Wyoming. The type species is E. delfsi. Charles Mook described Eutretauranosuchus in 1967 from a skull and partial skeleton of a subadult individual uncovered at Garden Park in the 1950s by workers from the Cleveland Museum of Natural History. This individual was only about 1.77 metres (5.8 ft) long, and weighed perhaps 18 kilograms (40 lb), but older individuals could reach substantially larger sizes. The skull of Eutretauranosuchus differed from that of contemporaneous Goniopholis by the presence of an additional opening in the palate, among other details. Eutretauranosuchus would have been a semiaquatic predator, its prey including fish and small to medium-sized terrestrial vertebrates.Fossil Cabin
The Fossil Cabin near Medicine Bow, Wyoming, United States, was built in 1932 as a roadside attraction. The cabin is built of dinosaur bones excavated at nearby Como Bluff, using a total of 5,796 bones. The cabin was built as part of a gasoline filling station along US 30 by Thomas Boylan. Boylan had come from California to homestead in Wyoming and had been collecting bones for seventeen years, intending to create sculptures of dinosaurs in front of his house and gas station along the Lincoln Highway.Thomas Boylan was born in Humboldt County, California, in 1863. He arrived in Wyoming in 1892, working for sheep ranching operations until 1904, when he switched to cattle. Boylan filed for a homestead near Como Bluff in 1908, where extensive deposits of fossilized dinosaur bones had been discovered in the 1870s. His 5,796 bones weighed 102,116 pounds (46,319 kg). Initially intending to erect a complete skeleton, Boylan was daunted by the task, as well as the likelihood that few of the bones came from the same animal, or even the same species. Boylan, with the help of his son, built the 29-foot (8.8 m) by 19-foot (5.8 m) cabin in 1932 for the 1933 tourist season. By 1936 Boylan had postcards printed, calling it the "Como Bluff Dinosaurium." In 1938 the cabin was promoted in Ripley's Believe It or Not as "The World's Oldest Cabin", although many common rock formations predate the era of dinosaurs. After the Ripley mention, Boylan also called the cabin the "Creation Museum" and "The Building that Used to Walk."Boylan died in 1947. Operated by his widow, Grayce, the gas station continued until the 1960s, when the construction of Interstate 80 caused a fall-off in traffic on Route 30. Grayce sold the property in 1974. The cabin has since been offered for sale. One potential buyer has proposed moving the cabin to North Carolina for display.The Fossil Cabin was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2008.Fosterovenator
Fosterovenator (meaning "Foster's hunter") is a genus of ceratosaur dinosaur known from the Late Jurassic Morrison Formation of Wyoming. The holotype is YPM VP 058267A, B, and C, a tibia with an articulated astragalus. An additional specimen is known, the paratype YPM VP 058267D, a fibula of a larger individual.
The holotype remains were in 1879 discovered by Arthur Lakes at Como Bluff, Wyoming, and consist of a nearly-complete right tibia with a co-ossified astragalus, probably of a juvenile. The paratype consists of a complete right fibula measuring 27.5 cm (10.8 in) in length and belonging to a much larger individual. The overall shape of the known material is similar to that of Elaphrosaurus. However, ceratosaurian affinities of Fosterovenator (at least of the paratype) have been questioned.History of paleontology in the United States
The history of paleontology in the United States refers to the developments and discoveries regarding fossils found within or by people from the United States of America. Local paleontology began informally with Native Americans, who have been familiar with fossils for thousands of years. They both told myths about them and applied them to practical purposes. African slaves also contributed their knowledge; the first reasonably accurate recorded identification of vertebrate fossils in the new world was made by slaves on a South Carolina plantation who recognized the elephant affinities of mammoth molars uncovered there in 1725. The first major fossil discovery to attract the attention of formally trained scientists were the Ice Age fossils of Kentucky's Big Bone Lick. These fossils were studied by eminent intellectuals like France's George Cuvier and local statesmen and frontiersman like Daniel Boone, Benjamin Franklin, William Henry Harrison, Thomas Jefferson, and George Washington. By the end of the 18th century possible dinosaur fossils had already been found.
By the beginning of the 19th, their fossil footprints definitely had. Later in the century as more dinosaur fossils were uncovered eminent paleontologists Edward Drinker Cope and Othniel Charles Marsh were embroiled in a bitter rivalry to collect the most fossils and name the most new prehistoric species. Early in the 20th century major finds continued, like the Ice Age mammals of the La Brea Tar Pits, the Oligocene bonebeds of South Dakota, and the Triassic bonebeds of New Mexico. Mid-to-late twentieth century discoveries in the United States triggered the Dinosaur Renaissance as the discovery of the bird-like Deinonychus overturned misguided notions of dinosaurs as plodding lizard-like animals, cemented their sophisticated physiology and relationship with birds. Other notable finds include Maiasaura, which provided early evidence for parental care in dinosaurs and "Seismosaurus" the largest known dinosaur.List of National Natural Landmarks in Wyoming
From List of National Natural Landmarks, these are the National Natural Landmarks in Wyoming. There are 6 in total: 3 are canyons, one is a depression, one is a cliff, and the last is a stream that divides and flows into two oceans.Macelognathus
Macelognathus is an extinct genus of sphenosuchian crocodylomorph from the Late Jurassic. Originally it was believed be a turtle and later a dinosaur. It lived in what is now Wyoming, in North America.
The type species, Macelognathus vagans, was described by Othniel Charles Marsh in 1884 as a turtle based on a partial jaw from the Late Jurassic Morrison Formation at Como Bluff, Wyoming. After being referred to the Dinosauria by Moodie in 1906 it was later reclassified by Ostrom in 1971 as a crocodilian relative. Based on new material from the Morrison Formation at Fruita, Colorado, in 2005 Göhlich et al. identified it as a basal crocodylomorph ("sphenosuchian"). It is considered an example of convergent evolution, due to the similarities to caenagnathid dinosaurs, with which it was not closely related. It was between 3.9 and 6.2 feet (1.2 and 1.9 m) long.
It is possibly a junior synonym of Hallopus victor.National Register of Historic Places listings in Wyoming
This is a directory of properties and districts listed on the National Register of Historic Places in Wyoming. There are more than 500 listed sites in Wyoming. Each of the 23 counties in Wyoming has at least four listings on the National Register.
This National Park Service list is complete through NPS recent listings posted August 9, 2019.Paleontology in Wyoming
Paleontology in Wyoming includes research into the prehistoric life of the U.S. state of Wyoming as well as investigations conducted by Wyomingite researchers and institutions into ancient life occurring elsewhere. The fossil record of the US state of Wyoming spans from the Precambrian to recent deposits. There are a large number of different fossil sites spread throughout the state. Wyoming is such a spectacular source of fossils that author Marian Murray noted in 1974 that "[e]ven today, it is the expected thing that any great museum will send its representatives to Wyoming as often as possible." Murray has also written that nearly every major vertebrate paleontologist in United States history has collected fossils in Wyoming. Wyoming is a major source of dinosaur fossils. Wyoming's dinosaur fossils are curated by museums located all over the planet.During the Precambrian, Wyoming was covered by a shallow sea inhabited by stromatolite-forming bacteria. This sea remained in place during the early Paleozoic era and would come to be inhabited by creatures like brachiopods, ostracoderms, and trilobites. During the Silurian, the sea withdrew from Wyoming and there is a gap in the local rock record. During the Devonian the sea returned to the state and remained until the Permian when it started to withdraw once more. By the Triassic the state had become a coastal plain inhabited by dinosaurs whose footprints would later fossilize. By the Jurassic, the state was covered in sand dunes. The Western Interior Seaway submerged much of the state during the Late Cretaceous.
During the early part of the Cenozoic, Wyoming was home to massive lakes inhabited by fish-like Knightia and dense forests. On land the state would come to be inhabited by camels, carnivorans, creodonts, the seven foot tall flightless bird Diatryma, elephants, horses, primates, rodents, and Uintatherium. During the Ice Age, Wyoming was subject to glacial activity. Local Native Americans have known about fossils for thousands of years and have both applied them to practical purposes and devised myths to explain them. Wyoming first became a hotspot for dinosaur research in the 1870s with the discovery of the dinosaurs preserved in the Morrison Formation. By the early 20th century, hundreds of tons of dinosaur fossils had been excavated from Wyoming. The Eocene fish Knightia is the Wyoming state fossil. Triceratops is the state dinosaur of Wyoming.Paramacellodus
Paramacellodus is an extinct genus of scincomorph lizards from the Early Cretaceous of England the Late Jurassic of Portugal and the western United States. The type species, Paramacellodus oweni, was named in 1967 from the Purbeck Formation in Dorset, England. Additional material referable to a species of Paramacellodus, possibly P. oweni, has been described from the Morrison Formation, specifically in Como Bluff, Wyoming, and Dinosaur National Monument, Utah. Paramacellodus belongs to an extinct family of scincomorphs called Paramacellodidae, which spanned most of Laurasia during the Late Jurassic and Early Cretaceous and represented one of the earliest evolutionary radiations of lizards.Uluops
Uluops is an extinct genus of turtle from the Late Jurassic Morrison Formation. The type species is Uluops uluops.
|National Historic Landmark|
|National Historic Landmark|