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The Fruitland Formation in the region of the Bisti badlands contains a diverse and abundant fossil flora and fauna of Late Cretaceous age. Potential development of the substantial Fruitland Formation coal reserves has led to a cooperative investigation of a Fruitland "fossil forest" by the New Mexico Bureau of Mines and Mineral Resources and the U.S. Bureau of Land Management.
Within the fossil forest study area, at least 21 m of uppermost
Fruitland strata are exposed. These contain at least two, and possibly three, levels of in-situ tree stumps, fallen logs up to 20 m long, and several leaf localities. Preliminary analysis indicates the presence of Taxodium, Sequoia, and palm. Pollen analysis will be conducted.
Fossil mammals, including multituberculates, marsupials, and insectivores, have been found at two sites in clay-pebble conglomerates, associated with freshwater fish, some sharks, amphibians, turtles, lizards, and dinosaurs. The mammals are represented by isolated teeth, jaw fragments, and the first reported postcranial elements from the San Juan basin.
Elsewhere in the area, channel sands and mudstones have produced a large assemblage of turtles, lizards, crocodiles, and dinosaurs. We have identified ankylosaurs, hadrosaurs, ceratopsians, and carnosaurs.
There are at least three stratigraphic levels of mollusk-rich beds containing bivalves, gastropods, and numerous gastropod opercula.
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