Introduction

Most of what is to be learned about the history of life remains buried within the sediments of the Earth's crust. Fossils preserved in approximately 120 units of the National Park Service contribute to our understanding of ancient plants, animals and ecosystems. Parks such as Agate Fossil Beds National Monument, Dinosaur National Monument, Fossil Butte National Monument, Petrified Forest National Park, were originally established based upon world-renowned paleontological resources. Many other national parks, such as Arches National Park, Death Valley National Park, Grand Canyon National Park, Yellowstone National Park, were not specifically established for the paleontological resources, but contain scientifically significant fossils.

This third National Park Service paleontological research volume compiles 38 articles representing paleontological research in 21 different national parks. The individual reports reflect a cross-section of the types of paleontological research activities recently undertaken throughout the National Park System. The contributions of each of the investigators, and their research teams are recognized and acknowledged in this volume.

I am proud to include reports documenting the multi-park-based Morrison Ecosystem Project, the fossil bee's nest at Petrified Forest National Park, and fossil mollusks from Alcatraz Island at Golden Gate National Recreation Area. This volume contains the first reports on paleontological inventories for Bryce Canyon National Park, Denali National Park, Great Smokey Mountains National Park, Mammoth Cave National Park, and Ozark National Scenic Riverway. Additionally, the unfortunate story regarding the abolished Fossil Cycad National Monument is included in this publication.

Thanks to Walter Coombs, Donald Corrick, Ann Elder,

Anthony Fiorillo, Ted Fremd, Andrew Heckert, Adrian Hunt, Bryn Mader, Allison Mathis, Greg McDonald, Dennis Parmley, John Ostrom, and William Wall for their willingness to review manuscripts. Additional thanks to Dave Shaver, Bob Higgins, Dave McGinnis, Merry Bacon, Clay Kyte and Bianca Santucci for their suggestions and support relative to this research publication. I am indebted to Lindsay McClelland, the co-editor of this volume, for the many contributions that help promote the management and protection of paleontological resources in the national parks. Special thanks to Arvid Aase, seasonal paleontologist at Fossil Butte, for spending many hours of precious time during the summer field season to ensure this document is high quality.

This volume is dedicated to the many volunteers and paleontology interns who were funded by the NPS VIP Program, the NPS Geologic Resources Division Geologist-in-the-Park Program, the Geological Society of America, the Student Conservation Association Program, and other sources. It is difficult to imagine how the NPS Paleontological Resource Program would have the current level of success without the generous and enthusiastic contributions of these volunteers.

Finally, through the combined efforts of the men and women already mentioned, along with many others, the NPS Paleontological Resource Program continues to flourish. Many research questions remain to be explored within the national parks. Likewise, the increasing numbers of paleontological inventories being initiated in parks will certainly uncover clues buried in sediments and provide for a new and greater understanding of the ancient world. Parks are not merely beautiful and scenic places to visit, they also provide paleontologists with tremendous research opportunities.

Vincent L. Santucci

National Park Service