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Plant Fossils of the Green River Formation

Green River fossil leaf

Fossilized leaf: Two hundred and seventy-six leaves, seeds, and flowers are known from the Fossil Lake deposits. Fossil plants are key in determining the climate of past environments. National Park Service photo. Enlarge image.


Abundant plants grew on broad swampy areas that developed around the margins of the intermountain lakes of the Green River Formation. These plants were often preserved in the fine-grained limestones, marls and oil shales of the lakes or in the clastic rocks associated with the swamps. Photos by the National Park Service - Fossil Butte National Monument.

Green River fossil leaf

Fossilized leaf: Over 300 fossil plants have been discovered in the Fossil Lake deposits. Enlarge image.


Green River fossil flower

Fossilized flower: The detailed preservation of this flower is due, in part, to the fine-grained nature of the limestone matrix it is found in. Enlarge image.

Green River fossil flower

Fossilized flower: Fossilized plants are more difficult to identify than living plants because their parts often become separated before they are preserved. The plant that produced this flower may be impossible to identify because it is not attached to the rest of the plant. National Park Service photo. Enlarge image.

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Green River fossil leaf

Fossilized leaf: Plants are key to understanding past climates. If a population of 25 or more different-shaped leaves are collected from a locality, paleontologists use a technique called leaf-margin analysis to estimate temperature and rainfall. Enlarge image.

Green River fossil plant

Fossilized plant: Fossilized plants are difficult to identify when their parts, stem, roots, leaves, and fruiting structures are not attached. National Park Service photo. Enlarge image.

Green River fossil palm

Fossilized palm: The presence of palm fossils indicates a much warmer and wetter climate 50 million years ago, probably similar to Florida's climate today. Enlarge image.

More Fossils
  The Green River Formation
  Fossil Gems
  Petrified Wood
  Fossil Kits
  Fossils and Beer
  Coal Through a Microscope
  Understanding Past Climate and Ecosystems

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