Colorado Pierre Shale


Pygmy Octopus
Nov 5, 2005
Becoming a paleontologist was right up there with becoming an astronaut while I was a kid. Obviously, I'm not either, but I fully expect one of my insane friends to build his own backyard rocket ship in the next 20 years, and after some digging I discovered that Pierre Shale Fossils are accessible in this part of Colorado. So, anything's possible, I guess. I always figured that much of Colorado was nothing but stegosaurs and other big stompy lizards.

After a little bit more digging I realized that the "really cool rocks" that my grandfather's collected (while at work -- more info when I actually post the pics -- it'll make more sense) are ammonite. I've always known they were fossils, but without having anything to compare them to, I had no idea what kind. I'll make sure to get pics next time I drop by their house.

After that -- I guess once it starts getting warm again I'll have to put on my hiking boots and stomp off into the prairies instead of the mountains. :mrgreen:
Look forward to seeing these, Qthooga. It sounds like your grandfather had quite a collection.

Any nautilus fossils in the collection? The Eutrephoceras you mention in your link look remarkably similar to the rare nautiloids we find in our local clays and chalk, even though ours are Early Cretaceous. The animal must have once had a worldwide distribution unlike today.
I wouldn't exactly call it "quite a collection." Between him and his buddies, they collected a lot of decent sized fragments, though. I think he's only got 3 or 4 pieces. And I think what he's got is close to the link I posted. If it's mostly found in clay beds, that might be a good guess -- this whole area of Colorado is nothing but clay.

I was planning on getting over there today to take pics, but didn't have time. I may as well elaborate on where they found the fossils, though. There's a chemical weapons storage facility just to the east of town, but they've also done a fair amount of destroying ICBM rockets since the end of the Cold War. The general rocket disposal procedure is...

1) Dig really big hole.
2) Dump rocket bitz in hole.
3) Pile explosives on top.
4) Fill up hole.
5) Blow up.
6) Run away because for some reason fossils fly faster and farther than rocket bitz.

So, I guess you could say that the rocket disposal part of the facility used to be a fossil bed. :hmm:

At least the stuff they store out there doesn't become lethal until it's heated above 70 degrees. And when it gets that hot, the wind blows towards Kansas, and the only thing to worry about is prairie dogs, since there's a few hundred miles until the next city, and it's only got a lethal range of a few dozen miles on a windy day.
:shock: :shock: :shock:

Crikey! Talk about extreme-palaeontology!

There can't be many places in the world where it occasionally rains super-heated irradiated brachiopods. Do you need to use a steel palaeo-umbrella?

You know, most of the Jurassic dinosaur bones and Triassic petrified trees in Eastern Utah and Western Colorado are well endowed with Uranium. I have heard stories of truckloads of bones being hauled to the mills, and hefty profits being made. And a radiologist at the U of U has found new dinosaur graveyards using a scintillation counter on wheels :rainbow:

I wonder if I glow in the dark :hmm:
We had some Hell Creek vertebrate fossils at my alma mater that were pretty radioactive. Its interesting this came up because I was just learning about the uranium "roll front" concentration mechanism that does this in my groundwater geochemistry course last week.

What is it with the military using prime fossil sites as bomb dumping grounds? What with ICBM destruction in Colorado and 'Bomb Beach' on the Holderness you'd think they were trying to put us off going.


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