Tule Springs Fossil Beds National Monument

On June 25, 2015 the Nevada State Museum, Las Vegas received fossil specimens from the National Park Service’s Tule Springs Fossil Beds National Monument from the San Bernardino County Museum in California. The museum is acting as a temporary repository for over 10,000 specimens until the National Park Service can build their own facilities at the new monument located on the north end of the Las Vegas Valley.

The museum had an exhibit about the newly formed monument with fossil specimens of Pleistocene mammals such as mammoth teeth and camel bones. These significant fossils told a story of a wetter environment during the Pleistocene epoch (2.5 million years ago to 11,700 years ago) where herds of mammoths, prehistoric horses, bison, and camels roamed the valley. There was also fossil evidence that this spring fed area was home to predators such as the American lion, Dire wolf, Saber-toothed cat, and human beings.

Though direct evidence of humans hunting Pleistocene mammals in the Las Vegas Valley has not been found, this question has led to significant excavations by archaeologists and paleontologists in the past and still directs current investigations within the area.

The fossils that were on display were just a few of the specimens that were removed from the monument area when it was under the management of the Bureau of Land Management. It is hoped that more of the Tule Springs area fossils will return to Southern Nevada. The Nevada State Museum, Las Vegas was pleased to be able to temporarily house the material until 2021.

Partial mammoth tusk from Tule Springs
Partial mammoth tusk from Tule Springs