The Badlands were HOT! The sun seemed directly overhead for four hours of the day, so even if we got up and out early, you only get a little time without sweltering heat.
Mark suggested one morning we venture off the trail a bit to look for fossils in the creek wash. I thought he was just trying to get Jane jazzed about yet another morning spent hiking, so imagine my surprise when they did indeed find a fossil!
The Badlands are renowned for fossils, and apparently fossils are pretty easy to find, because we found some.
The whole area was once under an inland sea, and the ground now is so powdery that rains and wind constantly wash layers of top soil away, exposing more and more fossils. Some big, some small.
I hiked around with a cranky Wilson looking for shade while Mark and Jane looked at the base of the dirt mounds for fossils. Within 10 minutes I heard a call, “Hey, I think we found one!” Wilson and I headed back to see what our two resident paleontologist had found.
They had found a strange little rock which we thought looked like a vertebrae! They had also found another little rock that looked like a snail. We decided to take photos and report our findings at the visitors center, which is encouraged.
When we arrived at the visitors center, Mark filled out a couple of cards about where and how they had found the fossil. The snail was indeed a fossil, the vertebrae was just limestone, but it took two rangers and a paleontologist to determine it wasn’t a fossil.
Jane had her photo taken for the wall of fossil finders in the visitors center.
The rangers even gave her a special “Fossil Finder” junior ranger patch, and you know how we love our Junior Ranger badges.
Jane was so thrilled and proud! We all had a great time playing paleontologist!